The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the theological confession which unites thousands of Southern Baptist Churches throughout the United States, is quite broad. Its broadness allows churches that may not see eye-to-eye on very particular matters of doctrine to cooperate based upon their affirmation of broader ones. One of the broader theological positions laid out in the BFM is the limitation of the pastoral office to men. Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message states:
“…While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
Historically, Southern Baptists have taken this prohibition seriously. In 2010, the Georgia Baptist Convention expelled Druid Hills Baptist Church from membership from violating this prohibition. First Baptist Church Decatur was expelled for the same reason in 2009. Yet, the Bartow Baptist Association, which is associated with the Georgia Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention, has recently admitted a church which does not affirm the theological accuracy of the BFM.
Unity Worship Center is listed among the member churches of the Bartow Baptist Association in the church directory section of its website. This November, Unity Worship Center is hosting a female “Pastor” named Davilyn Williams” as a featured speaker of its “Scented” Praise and Worship Conference. When reached for comment, Unity Worship Center’s Pastor, Sebastian Holley, made it clear that he did not affirm Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
For better or for worse, Henry Blackaby is very popular among Georgia Baptists, especially in Bartow County. One Blackaby’s most popular maxims is “Find out where God is at work and join Him there.” If God’s revealed word in scripture tells us that females aren’t to be pastors, can’t it be assumed that God isn’t working in a congregation that affirms them as such? Unity with Unity Worship Church should be off the table for a Southern Baptist Association.
It’s a simple matter. Unity Worship Center does not affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and should therefore be barred from membership in a Southern Baptist Association. I encourage local Baptist leaders to watch out for error like this creeping up in their own associations.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church of which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
**It is my hope that this article will be in no way deemed as an attack on the character of Sebastian Holley. From my experience he is a thoughtful and kind man. My critique here specifically related to his theological error as it relates to Southern Baptist doctrinal positions. Mr. Holley is not at fault for the failure of the Bartow Baptist Association to exclude from membership a church which does not affirm Baptist doctrine.