Baptist Women in Ministry will expand its advocacy efforts in light of actions taken and not taken by the Baptist General Convention of Texas last week, according to Meredith Stone.
Stone, BWIM’s executive director, was one of two messengers to the BGCT annual meeting in McAllen who made motions that would have put Texas Baptists on record affirming women in all forms of Christian ministry and providing resources to support them.
One of those motions got watered down before passage and the other got withdrawn, as a majority of messengers did not appear ready to so boldly buck the Southern Baptist Convention, which earlier this summer embraced harsh restrictions on women in ministry.
The public outcome of those two motions does not tell the full story, Stone wrote in a July 21 email to supporters.
She said more advocacy is needed because in Texas “a group of male pastors and leaders had already decided what would be best for women in ministry and the convention.” She also said advocates of women in ministry had received emails attempting to “bully” them into not making a motion because doing so would “force a dividing line where none needs to exist.”
She also explained the frustration of being told male leaders “respect” her views but “culture change just takes time.”
Stone noted her offense at the speech given by one male messenger at the convention who compared women “to a serpent and Satan.”
That speaker, who received vigorous applause, quoted Genesis 3 to riff on the biblical account of the serpent tempting Eve with the line, “Did God really say?”
“Satan called God’s words into question from the beginning, and liberal Christianity continues that work by calling God’s word into question today,” he said. “We know what Scripture says about leadership in the local church yet we still have the audacity to ask, ‘Did God actually say?’
“Did God actually say let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness, I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man rather she is to remain quiet? Did God actually say if anyone aspires to the office of overseer he desires a noble task therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife? Did God actually say Scripture is clear that one of the many qualifications for pastoral leadership is that he is a man?
“No one called him out of order. No one reprimanded his unkindness.”
“To say otherwise is rebellion against the word of God,” the speaker said. “Women pastors are the most obvious evidence of churches rebelling against the Bible. This is not a minor issue. This is not a small disagreement. This is direct rebellion against God’s word.”
Stone said it was painful “having to listen while people clap for this man’s angry and insulting name calling and watching as no one rebuked him. No one called him out of order. No one reprimanded his unkindness.”
Yet she watched “the tears that were shed by women who felt completely devalued and disparaged by his words.”
For those who want to be advocates and allies, she urged finding a church “where women are serving in a role with pastor in their title and email them a word of encouragement … Let them know there are Baptists like you who support and value them.”
“While our efforts were not fully successful with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and while they attempted to destroy our resolve, we will not be deterred,” she declared. “Women in ministry should be wanted, not just permitted. Women in ministry should be celebrated, not just tolerated. Women in ministry should be able to thrive, not just survive.”
Given opportunity to affirm women in ministry, BGCT punts | Analysis by Mark Wingfield