Flat Rock Baptist Church (FRBC) was recently removed from fellowship in the Surry Baptist Association (SBA) for calling a female to the pastorate. Some have disagreed with the way SBA removed them seemingly so quickly1 while others disagree with the removal at all2. The background of the situation may be found in those posts or a more direct story may be found at the Associated Baptist Press.3
I have been in contact with SBA. I wasn’t sure what or how much to say about the issue after doing some reading. After reading about the issue from Mount Airy pastor Alex Martin 4 as well as the above posts it seems most of the information is public.
For the record I agree with SBA on the dis-fellowship of FRBC and I don’t agree that it was a graceless action about which FRBC was clueless. While the action taken at the meeting was not on the agenda, it was brought up on the floor just as any other issue may have been. My thought is that FRBC gave the “go ahead” if you will for SBA to make the best decisions for the association.
Below I will provide the timeline of events leading up to FRBC’s dis-fellowship from SBA. While the timeline may be loosely constructed by the reports thus far, I hope to give a more accurate account.
- In about April of 2011, FRBC members found out that a female was being considered for the pastorate causing some internal conflict.
- On July 6, eight concerned pastors met with the DOM about the issue. They were advised to work through the Membership Committee (MC). A meeting with the MC was arranged.
- On July 12, the concerned pastors met with the MC who then decided to ask FRBC to meet on August 8 at 7pm. The meeting was opened to the “newly elected pastor, deacon board, pastor search committee and any other leader” whom FRBC chose.
- The MC reached out to FRBC hoping to discuss the issue and to keep it off the floor of the July 25 meeting, planning to have a special announced meeting if action was needed.
- On July 25, the DOM returned to work from a mission trip and opened a response from FRBC confirming their calling of Ms. Bailey and explaining that SBA was “free to make further decisions regarding the best interest of your organization, just as we will continue to do so in the future of our church.”5 [Note: This is the "go ahead" statement.]
- On the day of the meeting in which FRBC was removed from fellowship only 3 of the 6 of the MC could be reached to share FRBC’s response with.
- Based on FRBC’s response declining a future meeting on the issues, at the July 25 SBA meeting, the MC chairman, Jim Richland, acting as an association messenger, decided to put a motion forward to have FRBC removed from fellowship. Brother Richland actually stated, “In light of their decision to continue in their path, I as Chairman of the Membership Committee and as a Messenger of Westfield Baptist Church make a motion that we withdraw our association from Flat Rock Baptist Church.“6
The motion received a second which opened the floor for discussion. One pastor spoke up and asked for more time to consider FRBC’s removal. Another pastor stated that a majority of the MC agreed to remove FRBC. A vote was called for which passed the motion by more than 2/3.
These are Southern Baptist affiliations so it makes sense not to have an associated church with a female pastor. The local church may have a female pastor if they like just as an association may choose not to associate with such a church. It’s time to let SBA move forward.
Update! Below is the letter sent to Flat Rock Baptist requesting a meeting on August 8, 2011.
- Female Pastors & Graceless Responses in Mayberry! ↩
- No, I wouldn’t vote to kick a church with a woman pastor out ↩
- NC association ousts church with woman pastor ↩
- A Special Note Concerning Recent Events in the Local Baptist Association ↩
- Surry Baptist Association Minutes, July 25, 2011 ↩
- Ibid. ↩