The Georgia Baptist Convention approved a policy restricting affiliation with churches who are led by women. At first glance this might appear to impact several congregations, but the reality is that FBC Decatur is the only one that falls into this category. Welcome to Georgia, Julie Pennington-Russell, from your Georgia Baptist brethren. This greeting really isn’t all that unexpected.
FBC Decatur has been part of the state convention for almost 150 years, so it is signficant that the state convention is severing ties. I’m sure that the church considered the possibility of this happening when they brought their new pastor to the state. There might be some sentimental reaction to this news, but I hope that the church will move forward with the Lord’s work through its partnership with the CBF. This is one of many congregations who have been faithful in building the SBC through its financial support and participation who are no longer welcome in the denomination.
One of the primary lessons taught through Baptist life is the autonomy of the local church, which means congregations can ordain whom they choose, carry out their mission and ministry without outside coercion, and call their own staff. Autonomy also relates to the concentric circles of Baptist involvement beyond the church, including the association, state convention, and ultimately the Southern Baptist Convention. So, it is not a violation of FBC’s autonomy for Georgia Baptists to say they don’t want this church in the fold any longer. FBC can still do what it wills, but it might sting emotionally that after all this time and years of support they are told their money is no good.