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Elections: American and Georgia Baptist Convention

Unlike most Americans, I voted on two consecutive Tuesdays. First, I voted in the presidential election. And most recently, I voted at the Georgia Baptist Convention.

In the wake of both, I lament the lack of statespeople helping the nation–and the convention–through a difficult passage.
As to the presidential election, it is now a truism that “every vote counts.” Sadly, the scandal of this election–and apparently most others–is that a lot of votes aren’t counted at all. Due to voting methods that are ancient by today’s standards, many votes cast are nullified.
Meanwhile, at the Georgia Baptist Convention, the messengers voted by a 60/40 margin to affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Despite assurances this statement is not a creed, it is being used that way in Baptist life.
If you believe God might conceivably call a woman to serve as a pastor, you cannot be hired to work for the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Where are those who can call Georgia Baptists to reclaim their heritage as a freedom-loving people of faith? Such people don’t exist in Baptist life today. The divide and the suspicions are too deep. Partisanship rules in the convention, as in the culture.
One characteristic of fundamentalism is the inability to work with anyone with whom you disagree. Sadly, this attitude is infecting not only the Baptist family, but the political left and right. Such a divided world desperately needs communities where Republicans and Democrats can worship and work together.
The church is to be such a community, a fellowship of faith where differences are not ignored but transcended. A congregation where people are diverse–yet one in Jesus Christ–is both a rarity and a precious trust.
We may have no more vital witness than this: “See how they love one another.”
Bob Setzer is pastor of First Baptist Church, Macon, Ga., and serves on BCE’s board of directors.