Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kudos to FBC Decatur

In the most recent copy of Baptist Today (March 2009) there is an article written about FBC Decatur, GA. As you may or may not know in August 2007 the church called a new pastor. The church called the pastor they genuinely believed to be God's choice for them. After prayerful consideration the search committee led the church to a choice that was even surprising to the committee, the candidate happened to be a woman. From what I have heard the committee even hid the names and pictures so as not to be biased in any way throughout the process. They did not go in search of a woman, but were obviously open to calling her as pastor. Ask any member of Decatur First and I'm sure they will tell you what a wonderful addition she is to the staff, the church, and the community. In November 2008 the GBC passed a motion not to accept mission funds from churches with female pastors and to prohibit those churches from having representation in the convention. This was clearly in response to FBC Decatur's calling of Julie Pennington-Russell, although they will never say that. On Jan. 7 of this year Executive Director Robert White, the GBC Church-Ministers Relations director Danny Watters, and the editor of the Christian Index visited Pennington-Russell with the news that some individuals within the convention were requesting a "withdrawal of fellowship" from FBC Decatur. The paragraphs that follow are the pastor's recounting of that meeting and some of her response to her congregation.

She told church members that the GBC representatives explained that a formal "withdrawal of fellowship" would mean that the church could not recieve materials or services from the GBC such as training in VBS, Sunday School, or Evangelism.
"Not Sure I'd heard correctly, I pressed a little. Do you mean that if I called you up one day and said--'The Spirit is doing something amazing at First Baptist Decatur! Waves of men, women, and teenagers are responding to God and are being baptized and we could use some additional help in giving them a good foundation. Could you send a team over to meet with our folks?'--Are you telling me that the GBC wouldn't want to help us with that?"
White said he would be willing to help "personally" in such a situation, but not as an official representative of the GBC.

Then from her article she encourages her congregation against "missing the point."

'[Denominationalism] is largely missing the point. The denominational leaders in my office that day love people and care deeply about the gospel--I'm certain about that. But the sad reality is, most denominational organizations are stuck in bureaucratic systems that have forgotten why they exist in the first place.' She said the congregation must be on guard against "missing the point" as well. 'May God save us from the deadly notion that this church exists to provide goods and services for eligible "members." We exist to follow Jesus into gospel adventures of all kinds in collaboration with all God's people, whatever their denominational preferences or doctrinal stances.'

Just as Pennington-Russell encourages her congregation let me encourage ours not to "miss the point." As Christians and as FBC Augusta we should plan ministries with all integrity for the benefit of our community and especially those that are not within our fellowship. It is by focusing outward that our community will know that we are people of faith that will accept them where they are, as they are, but like our Lord Jesus Christ will love them to much to leave them there. Gone are the days of the Country Club, "serve me" mentality. Let us continue to be a church on mission and with a mission to "Love the Lord our God and share his love with our community and world."
Thanks to John Pierce and his article in Baptist Today (March 2009, p. 12)

1 comment:

Beth said...

Excellent blog, Andy! Though sad, I enjoyed reading the article about FBC Decatur. It's a shame that in the 21st century we still witness the types of behavior exhibited by those in the GBC.