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Georgia association loses church over 2000 BF&M

ROME, Ga. (BP)–A Georgia Baptist church with husband-and-wife pastors withdrew from the Floyd County Baptist Association Sept. 27 when the association adopted the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs.

The vote was 428-130, with observers estimating that at least 1,000 messengers and guests were present for the meeting in Rome, Ga.

The BF&M, which was adopted by the SBC in June 2000 and the Georgia Baptist Convention the following November, includes a statement within the section on “The Church” stating: “… while both men and women are gifted and called for ministry, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” One of the biblical passages used to support the aforementioned document is 1 Timothy 2:11-14, which includes the following statement: “I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man….” (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

The Floyd County Baptist Association, until the meeting at West Rome Baptist Church, had the only female senior pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Georgia among its 71 member churches. Katrina Brooks, along with her husband, Tony, serve as co-pastors of North Broad Baptist Church in Rome.

Although the meeting had the potential of erupting into a heated debate, the issue was discussed in an orderly fashion for approximately 30 minutes. Philip May, pastor of Pleasant Valley South Baptist Church, commented, “The discussion was conducted in a Christ-like manner. Fairness was the order of the day.”

Lester Cooper, associational missionary of the Atlanta Association of Southern Baptist and a certified parliamentarian, was called on to assist in the meeting and remarked, “The intention of the association was to be supportive of the decisions which the Southern Baptist Convention and the Georgia Baptist Convention had already made concerning the Baptist Faith and Message. No one mentioned North Broad Church until someone from the church mentioned how the vote would affect them.”

Charles Drummond, pastor of Shorter Avenue Baptist Church and moderator of the association, presided at the meeting and announced the 428-130 vote in favor the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

The association also voted down an amendment that would have prevented it from removing churches that oppose the statement, reflecting the association’s autonomy to make membership decisions, alongside each church’s autonomy to accept or reject the Baptist Faith and Message.

Following the vote, one of the members of the North Broad Church read a prepared letter stating the church’s intention to withdraw membership from the association.

Cooper stated that the letter was amiable, expressing appreciation for the relationship which the church had enjoyed with the association over the years. The church leaders indicated that they have no plans to withdraw affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Carla Moldavan, a mathematics professor at Berry College in Rome and member of the North Broad Church, who indicated that the church was 100 percent behind their co-pastors, saying, “We are in agreement in our church that Tony and Katrina are right for us. Our autonomy [to choose who will lead our church] is the big question.

Tony Dickerson, president of the Georgia Baptist Convention and pastor of Pinehurst Baptist Church in Columbus, stated, “I applaud the Floyd County Association for their decision to approve the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.”

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