Catch up on the journey to keep the SBC’s unity in the authority, clarity, and sufficiency of Scripture on this issue.
Timeline of Events for Constitutional Amendment
Note: The purpose of this timeline is simply to detail the process. This is not about personalities, but about keeping our Convention’s unity on this issue, and thus our unity in the authority, clarity, and sufficiency of Scripture.
5/19/22 – Pastor Mike writes to the Credentials Committee, asking: “Is a church who has a woman serving as a pastor deemed to be in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention?” (Available here).
5/19-24/22 – SBC Executive Committee Staff Member responds (Available here).
5/19-27/22 – SBC Credentials Committee Member responds telling Pastor Mike he can’t give information about the disposition of Saddleback. Pastor Mike effectively replies, “I’m not asking about Saddleback, or the five churches in my area. I’m not asking about particulars. I’m asking about principles. In principle, is a church with a woman serving as a pastor considered to be in friendly cooperation with the SBC?” (Available here).
5/22/22 – Resolutions Committee, chaired by Dr. Barber, acknowledges receipt of Pastor Mike’s “Resolution on Disfellowshipping Churches with Women Pastors” (Resolution available here).
5/24/22 – Pastor Mike is advised by a veteran Southern Baptist that the resolution will be declined and that what is really needed is a constitutional amendment.
5/24/22 – Pastor Mike reaches out to churches in northern Virginia, around Arlington Baptist Church (ABC), with women pastors informing them of a coming Credentials Committee submission, unless there’s some misunderstanding.
5/24-27/22 – Depending upon responses from local churches, Pastor Mike reports the churches around ABC to the Credentials Committee.
5/26-27/22 – Dr. Barber (Chair of Resolutions Committee) calls to talk about Pastor Mike’s Resolution on Disfellowshipping Churches with Women Pastors (Resolution available here). It was a very positive call, and lots of agreement on a variety of issues.
6/3/22 – Credentials Committee acknowledges submission of SBC churches with women pastors within a 5 mile radius of ABC.
6/13/22 – Dr. Barber calls to tell Pastor Mike that the Resolutions Committee declined the Resolution (Resolution available here). Pastor Mike sits down face-to-face in Exhibitors Hall with a veteran Southern Baptist to address the next step. Pastor Mike is encouraged to move to amend the SBC Constitution. Pastor Mike drafts the Constitutional Amendment, runs it by the veteran Southern Baptist who suggested the amendment (confirms), and subsequently speaks with a parliamentarian to make sure that the wording of the motion would be “in order” (confirmed).
6/14/22 – Pastor Mike pre-files motion with the recording secretary. Pastor Mike makes the motion to amend the constitution (Motion available here). The motion is referred to the SBC Executive Committee.
6/27/22 – BP First-Person article published that makes unfounded claim that “senior pastor” was either intended by BFM 2000 Article VI update, or at least that the update and leaders were unclear – FIRST-PERSON: Convictional cooperation and confessional commitments | Baptist Press. However, see the paper submitted to the Executive Committee for a review of the errors in this assertion (Information in Support of 2022 SBC Annual Item 22 (66) — version 3, See appendix 1, p. 18). Note: Updated mostly to fix some typos and better clarify some concepts.
7/29/22 – Pastor Mike drafts letter, asks close friends for edits. Drs. Mohler, Kelley, and Land release statement, affirming they never intend “pastor” to mean “senior pastor”: FIRST-PERSON: A statement regarding the Baptist Faith & Message and the word ‘pastor’ | Baptist Press.
8/15/22 – Pastor Mike asks close friends to sign the letter.
8/31/22 – Pastor Mike asks local Baptist pastors from the Columbia Baptist Ministers Association to sign the letter, also friends in the 9Marks world.
9/26/22 – Pastor Mike starts a compilation document of churches with female pastors listed on the churches.sbc.net website (Available here). According to the churches.sbc.net website (see here at bottom), “For any questions related to a church’s status, please contact Allison Young at ayo[email protected]” Pastor Mike contacts Executive Committee Staff and asks about the cooperating status of several churches.
10/6-7/22 – Pastor Mike asks pastors in the Pillar Church Network to sign the letter (Previously the letter had ~170 signatures).
10/12/22-1/10/23 – Pastor Mike asks pastors generally across the SBC (previously the letter had ~200 signatures).
10/13/22 – SBTS Trustees pass resolution affirming Dr. Mohler’s stance at the Convention on the word pastor: Fall Trustees Meeting: Board Commends Mohler’s Stance on Meaning of Pastor in BF&M 2000
10/18/22 – Pastor Mike emails the pastors who serve as SBTS Trustees and asks them to sign on, a handful do.
11/2/22 – Baptist Press reports on the referral of the Amendment to the Executive Committee and a joint statement by Dr. Barber and Dr. Wellman. In the statement Dr. Barber and Dr. Wellman commit themselves “as far as it lies in our authority to do so” to “letting these questions come before the messengers” in New Orleans: Barber, Wellman issue statement on proposed constitutional amendment | Baptist Press. [Nota Bene: At the 2022 Convention, the Constitutional Amendment was the only question referred by the Committee on Order of Business to the Executive Committee on the subject of women as pastors, see 2022 SBC Annual, item 66, pg. 71; the question of Saddleback was carried over from the 2021 referral upon the Convention’s pushback against the failure of the Credentials Committee/Executive Committee to act on that question in 2022. The Convention, having soundly rebuked the Credentials Committee’s recommendation on a study committee (withdrawn by the Credentials Committee) in place of action on Saddleback, did not refer to the Executive Committee any other underlying question(s) about women as pastors.]
- Update 02/23/23 – Dr. Barber tweets he is still committed to the promise of letting at least one of the questions, Saddleback, come to the messengers.
- Update 02/27/23 –However, in other tweets (here and here), Dr. Barber leaves the question of the Amendment open, asserting that the “question” in this case is not limited to the Amendment.
- Update on 03/01/23 – Through personal correspondence, the Chairman of the Executive Committee disclosed that he never intended the words of his joint statement to be a promise about putting the Amendment before the messengers at the 2023 Convention, but rather only that of a general question of women pastors in the convention.
11/9/22 – Letter crosses 1,000 signatures.
11/11-11/14/22 – There is a change in practice of being able to verify a church’s cooperating status (churches.sbc.net).
The language at the bottom of the website originally said “ChurchSearch is a tool for assisting those who are looking for a Southern Baptist church in their area. It utilizes databases that we seek to keep as current as possible, but it should not be used as an official list to verify cooperating status or eligibility for messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting. For any questions related to a church’s status, please contact Allison Young at [email protected],” and originally appeared on the website sometime around November 12, 2020 (see here).
The language changed between November 1, 2022 and November 11, 2022:
-November 1, 2022 (see here at bottom)
-November 11, 2022 (see here at bottom)
Executive Committee Staff decline to verify additional churches, and direct Pastor Mike to use the SBC Workspace database to verify affiliation.
Now the language is: “ChurchSearch is a tool for assisting those who are looking for a church in their area that is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. While churches listed on this site are considered to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, note that this site utilizes databases that we seek to keep as current as possible, and as such, this site should not be used as an official list to verify cooperating status or eligibility for messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting. Updates to information found on this site should be directed to the respective state convention for the church, contact information can be found here.”
- Note: There is no reference to the SBC Workspace database on the churches.sbc.net website.
11/16/22 – The SBTC adopts an interpretation of the word “pastor” for their constitution (Discussion and Vote on Interpreting “Pastor” #SBTCAM22 – YouTube)
- Ben Wright offers the motion, then speaks to the motion [~3:40]. Dr. Andrew Hebert opposes, and effectively says that thoroughly Complementarian churches can have female Children’s pastors [~5:52]. Dr. Jared Wellman (Executive Committee Chairman) publicly opposes the motion [~14:24].
- Pastor Mike’s reflections on 2/9 concerning the “Interpretation” approach:
- This is where the Executive Committee will likely head, if they don’t put the amendment forward.
- Pastor Mike’s thoughts – this is not a matter of confusion. The Convention has been clear on who may serve in the office of pastor, just read all of the documentation sent to the Executive Committee (Information in Support of 2022 SBC Annual Item 22 (66) — version 3). Note: Updated mostly to fix some typos and better clarify some concepts.
- Going the “Interpretation Approach” agrees to the lie that the BF&M 2000 is unclear. It is not.
- We can’t depend upon a lie to uphold the truth. The “Interpretation” approach is not viable, the amendment is still needed.
- This is where the Executive Committee will likely head, if they don’t put the amendment forward.
- Pastor Mike’s reflections on 2/9 concerning the “Interpretation” approach:
11/22/22 – SBC Executive Committee Email Outreach – Introduction and explanation of why Pastor Mike offered the Amendment (Available here).
11/23/22 – Dr. Barber responds to Executive Committee Email Outreach, offers to talk. Pastor Mike basically says, “Sure. Let me know when.”
11/29/22 – Pastor Mike meets via Zoom with Executive Committee Staff and Subcommittee Chairman [Dr. McLaurin (staff), Dr. Spring (Subcommittee Chairman), Jonathan Howe (staff), and Amy Thompson (staff)]. The Subcommittee Chairman explains that at the February 2023 meeting the following will take place:
- The Subcommittee will discuss and make a recommendation to the whole Executive Committee.
- The whole Executive Committee would then decide whether or not to recommend the Amendment to be voted upon at the Convention.
- The Subcommittee will discuss the matter at its February 2023 meeting and decide whether or not to recommend the Amendment.
1/31/23 – Letter crosses 2000 signatures. Pastor Mike submits documentation to Executive Committee Staff for Briefing Book:
- A document containing churches with a total of over 170 female pastors in Southern Baptist Churches, as found on the SBC Churches website (Available here).
- A document addressing key Issues related to the proposed constitutional amendment from humble members of Arlington Baptist Church (Available here). Note: Updated mostly to fix some typos.
- Pastor Mike’s letter to the Executive Committee, signed by more than 2000 pastors (Available here).
- Pastor Mike’s email to Dr. McLaurin on Tue, Nov 22, 2022. Note, a nearly identical email was sent to each member of the Executive Committee (Available here).
2/2/23 – Executive Committee staff declines to give Executive Committee members the list of churches with women pastors (list available here), also declines to give Executive Committee Members the list of names of pastors who signed the letter to the Executive Committee (Available here).
2/3/23 – Pastor Mike sends the Executive Committee all documentation to the whole Executive Committee (see above on 1/31/23).
2/6-10/23 – Pastor Mike asks signers of the letter to write to their respective Executive Committee representatives asking them to vote for the Constitutional Amendment
2/7/23 – Pastor Mike has a phone call with the Executive Committee Chairman. The Executive Committee Chairman informs Pastor Mike that the Executive Committee will discuss the matter at its February 2023 meeting, but will not decide. This is a change in direction from what was communicated in the Zoom call on 11/29/22. Bottom line: the Executive Committee will delay its decision on the matter until just before the Convention.
2/13/23 – Pastor Mike writes to the Subcommittee Chairman to coordinate the committee presentation. Pastor Mike requests: 1) 20 minutes of time to present the case for the amendment, and 2) PowerPoint and a projector, if available. The Subcommittee Chairman declines the request for 20 minutes and the use of media. 5 minutes will be allotted. The Subcommittee Chairman makes 2 offers: 1) to provide a summary document to him that he would get out to the committee before the meeting, and 2) to allow questions and answers with the committee.
2/16-17/23 – Given the five-minute limit, Pastor Mike sends a more formal video presentation to whole Executive Committee.
2/20-21/23 – Pastor Mike attends SBC Executive Committee meeting, makes a 5 minute statement (Available here). Pastor Mike is only allowed 2 minutes to answer questions from subcommittee members. The subcommittee did have a discussion on the issue that lasted between 10-20 minutes, but Pastor Mike was not invited to address complexities or concerns raised by the subcommittee during that time.
2/21/23 – Credentials Committee/Executive Committee take no action on remaining 3 original churches submitted from Northern Virginia area (of original 5, one withdrew voluntarily, another resigned). Credentials Committee/Executive Committee remove 4 churches with women as pastors, however each of these are cited for having “senior” or “lead” pastors (cf., New Faith Mission Ministry, Griffin GA; St. Timothy’s Christian Baptist, Baltimore MD; Calvary Baptist, Jackson MI; Fern Creek Baptist, Louisville KY).
Private discussions with leaders indicate that the intent of Executive Committee leadership is to offer an “interpretation” opinion or resolution of Article VI at the upcoming annual meeting. Despite the disfellowshipping of these churches (only one of which is on Pastor Mike’s list), no action was taken on the remaining 170+ churches with female pastors (from a small review of Workspace) submitted as part of the proposed Amendment 6 (Available here). EC removes six churches from cooperation including Saddleback Church | Baptist Press
Because the decision to disfellowship was tied to the “Senior,” “Lead,” or “Teaching” pastor position, this action only goes halfway, and, in fact, narrows the plain meaning of the BF&M 2000 to Senior Pastor. The Scriptures and our Convention’s Statement of Faith addresses the broader category of “the office of pastor.” In other words, acting only on those churches with pastors in the Senior, Lead, or Teaching pastor role means we’re still limping between two opinions, and it is not the opinion of the Bible or the framers of the BF&M 2000. The Bible does not allow for a female pastor of any kind, and neither does the BF&M 2000. The action of the Executive Committee on those four churches, and lack of action on others, accentuates the need for the Constitutional Amendment.
2/21/23 – Issue of Saddleback’s disfellowship still not settled, as an appeal by Saddleback is expected by Executive Committee member (see here): “Saddleback now has the option to appeal, which appears likely. That appeal would happen on the floor of the annual meeting in New Orleans and decided by the messengers. This was the heart of the room; to let the messengers of the SBC decide. Any named church may appeal.” Rick Warren replies (see here). Having the messengers express their will on the Constitutional Amendment will directly address the question of Saddleback and other churches out of step with Article VI the BF&M 2000.
3/1/23 – SBCAmendment.org launches. Email sent to the Executive Committee first, and then to signers (Available here).
- Note: Through personal correspondence, the Chairman of the Executive Committee disclosed that he never intended the words of his joint statement to be a promise about putting the Amendment before the messengers at the 2023 Convention, but rather only that of a general question of women pastors in the convention (see above the entry for 11/02/22).
3/29/23-4/5/23 – Baptist News Global publishes a series of articles against the Amendment and in support of Egalitarianism in the SBC.
- I’m one of the female pastors on the SBC’s hit list – Baptist News Global
- What Mike Law got right – Baptist News Global
- A response to ‘The List’ – Baptist News Global
- Advocates for constitutional ban on female ‘pastors’ in SBC publish a list of 170 churches they deem in violation – Baptist News Global
- Confessions of a female Baptist pastor – Baptist News Global
- Women preaching the gospel? Yes, please – Baptist News Global
- Of Lent, Beth Moore and the role of women in church leadership – Baptist News Global
4/5/23 – Egalitarian Professor, Scot McKnight, urges others to sign a letter in support of women pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention (Tweet here, letter here). Article from Baptist News Global:
4/15/23 – Pastor Mike follows up with the Subcommittee Chair requesting to know when the Subcommittee will meet again to discuss the Amendment.
- Update on 4/17/23 – The Subcommittee Chair reponds by indicating that the next meeting on the issue is 5/23/23.
4/19/23 – Email sent to the Executive Committee giving 4 reasons why the BF&M is not limited to the office of Sr. Pastor, but applies to a pastor of any kind (Available here).
- These arguments are laid out in detail on the SBCAmendment.org blog here.
- The EC was also gently reminded that, at this point, the Constitutional Amendment is the only proposed solution to address the issue of female pastors in the SBC. Offering an alternate proposal this close to the Convention, or even worse, in June, is not fair to messengers who have been debating the merits of the Amendment for 10 months now. Messengers deserve an opportunity to have their say on the Amendment.