Here is an important update for Oklahoma Baptists regarding the recent Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis:

Many are aware that messengers did not approve by two/thirds majority an amendment to the SBC constitution (known as the Law Amendment, named for its author Mike Law) that states a church will be in friendly cooperation that “affirms, appoints, or employs only men as any kind of pastor or elder as qualified by Scripture.”

With the amendment falling short of a two-thirds majority, there has been some confusion, generated in part by media headlines, that with this vote the SBC has approved women to serve in the office of elder/pastor. However, this is not true.

Many that voted against the amendment did so, not because they believe women should serve in the office of elder/pastor, but rather thought the amendment to be unnecessary or that it could potentially create problematic issues regarding Baptist polity. It is important to note that the most recent version of the Baptist Faith and Message states, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor/elder/overseer is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” In addition, messengers in the annual meeting both last year and this year overwhelmingly voted to declare three churches who have women serving in the office of elder/pastor as being not in friendly cooperation with the convention.

Thus, messengers did not vote to approve women serving in the office of elder/pastor, but rather were working to find consensus/clarity on issues related to the office, title, and function of elder/pastor. There was no sentiment among messengers that women should not serve on church staff or have roles of ministry in the church. Rather, messengers were working on the best way to uphold what our confession states— that only men as qualified by Scripture can serve in the office of elder/pastor and at the same time firmly believe that women are called and gifted by God to serve in other roles of ministry in the church.

Southern Baptists are committed to biblical/doctrinal fidelity, the convention’s confession of faith, and the importance of both men and women exercising their gifts in ministry within the guidelines provided by Scripture.

Let us not forget some wonderful things that occurred at the annual meeting: the sending of 83 missionaries by the International Mission Board (four of whom are from Oklahoma), the significant increase in baptisms and attendance among churches in most of our state conventions, growth in our seminaries, and countless testimonies of the advance of the gospel and goodness of God in the lives of people and families. I am encouraged that Southern Baptists, even with our flaws and disagreements, will strongly continue on our long-held path of biblical faithfulness and missional focus.