A Baptist church in Georgia pulled out of its association Monday after the group overwhelmingly adopted a faith statement banning women as pastors.
According to news reports, Floyd County Baptist Association in Rome, Ga., voted 428-130 to declare the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message as its doctrinal statement, capping a five-month debate over women's ordination. An earlier amendment that would have prevented removal of member churches opposing the statement failed by a similar margin.
The new faith statement includes an article declaring, "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."
That view isn't shared by the 137-year-old North Broad Baptist Church, which last November voted to call a husband and wife as co-pastors.
After the vote Monday, a member of North Broad Baptist Church read a letter announcing the congregation's decision to leave the association, of which it was a founding church in 1893.
"This choice we make is about identity," said the letter. "The 2000 Baptist Faith & Message does not reflect North Broad's identity."
The church pledged to continue to partner with individual churches in the association still desiring to work together.
Other churches in the association, including First Baptist Church in Rome, are planning to study the association's action before deciding how to respond.
Those supportive of adopting the new faith statement said the intent was simply to bring the association in line with the SBC and Georgia Baptist Convention, which previously voted to do the same.
North Broad, however, said it believes that the real issue was women pastors, and that the whole issue was created in order to place the church outside the association's doctrinal parameters.
North Broad co-pastor Tony Brooks told the Rome News-Tribune that he was "disappointed but not surprised" by the vote.
"I don't understand how an individual church's decision on who its pastor will be could affect the ministry that the church belongs to," co-pastor Katrina Brooks told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'd like to hope they prayed about it and considered it, but they obviously felt North Broad's presence was tainting their association."
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
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