The Floyd County Baptist Association (FCBA), a Georgia-based umbrella of some 70 churches, became the latest group to adopt the controversial ‘Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M),” a statement of beliefs adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000. FCBA’s decision, which was made with a majority vote, ultimately caused one of its churches to withdraw its membership because of the BF&M’s clause against ordaining women pastors.
The controversy surrounding the BF&M has mostly been around the part of the statement that reads, “While both men and women are gifted and called for ministry, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
Prior to the adoption of the statement, and prior to the “conservative resurgence” within its top members, the Southern Baptist Convention recognized and ordained women to numerous leadership positions, including the pastorate. However, since the statement’s passage, Southern Baptists limited the pastorate seats to males; while the licenses of current Southern Baptist women pastors are not revoked, the denomination places several restrictions on the church which the pastor serves.
The FCBA’s decision, which passed with a 428-130 vote, brought to light the controversy, since one of its member churches was co-lead by a female pastor.
Ultimately, the FCBA decided to vote against a separate amendment that would have prevented the association from removing churches that oppose the statement, thus allowing individual churches to freely choose to reject or accept the BF&M.
Following the Association’s decision, one of the members of the North Broad Church, the congregation led by Katrina and Tony Brooks, read a prepared letter stating the church’s intention to withdraw membership from the association.
According to Lester Cooper, associational missionary of the Atlanta Association of Southern Baptist, the letter was amiable. Cooper also noted that the church leaders indicated that they have no plans to withdraw affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole.