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Church with woman pastor drops SBC ties to join CBF

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (BP)–University Baptist Church in Bloomington, Ind., officially affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on Sept. 29 and “simultaneously withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention, including its state and local SBC organization.” News of the church’s action reached the offices of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana in the form of a news release on Oct. 13.

The University Baptist Church decision makes the recommended action of the convention’s executive committee, scheduled to be brought to the floor of the SCBI annual meeting Oct. 26-27 in Madison, unnecessary.

The executive committee had drafted a recommendation which read, “The State Convention of Baptists in Indiana chooses not to remove the University Baptist Church from membership within its Convention, specifically in honor of its long-standing cooperation in the Convention, and prayerfully for the purpose of holding open avenues of reconciliation, but at the same time chooses to voice its strong conviction that the University Baptist Church stands in violation of the principles of Scripture and outside the commonly held beliefs of Indiana Baptists in calling a woman to be senior pastor, and further chooses to no longer seat the messengers and no longer receive funds from University Baptist Church, Bloomington, Indiana, until such time as the church repents of its current course and the Convention votes to rescind this action.”

John Rogers, who at the time of the drafting of the recommendation was the executive committee’s chairman, said the proposed action was in no way a rubber stamp of an action previously taken by the Metropolitan Baptist Association with regard to University Baptist Church.

“I assured [the church’s pastor, Annette Briggs] that we are an autonomous body and that we were going to proceed to deal with this in our own rights,” Rogers said.

A subcommittee comprised of the president of the convention, Woody Cumbie, Rogers and the chairman of the administrative committee, Shelia Lightfoot, was appointed to interact with University Baptist Church during the process.

During the process, the executive committee specifically affirmed University Baptist Church’s rights as an autonomous body and in no way questioned Briggs’ call to ministry, convention officials said.

“Our goal is working together to share more effectively the good news of Jesus Christ,” Lightfoot said. “We cannot reach that goal by compromising biblical truth. We must stand on truth, individually and collectively. Men and women alike have abundant opportunities in ministry without violating Scripture.”

“I regret that the University Baptist Church has chosen to retreat instead of repent,” Cumbie said. “Still, I applaud their integrity. If they are going to intentionally step outside of the historic doctrine and practice of our convention, then the right thing for them to do is leave.

“A mentor once told me that you can tell more about a pastor observing the way he leaves a pastorate than the way he arrives,” Cumbie said. “Perhaps the same can be said of about a church. I am interested to see if University will exit with grace.”

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  • Chip Bayer