The Pen

Update: Tennessee Baptists Kick Out Church with Lady Impastor

The impastor in question…

Southern Baptists have historically held that the pastorate is reserved for qualified male leadership in the church. But one Southern Baptist church is making strides into new territory. First Baptist Church of Jefferson City, TN, has named a new pastor–and her name is Ellen Di Giosia.

As of this writing, the church is still listed on the Southern Baptist Convention’s church search as an affiliated church, yet under the former pastor’s name.

That’s what we wrote when we brought you the story of the SBC church hiring a lady pastor – or impastor, as we call it – back in June. But, things have changed and Tennessee Southern Baptists have given the church the left boot of fellowship. According to Bob Allen at Baptist News Global, “A 15-member committee tasked with credentialing messengers for the upcoming annual gathering of the statewide Southern Baptist Convention affiliate agreed Oct. 18 that a church with a woman serving as senior pastor does not fit the definition of a ‘cooperating church’ as defined by convention bylaws.”

Di Giosia told her congregation, ““This is in essence the state convention saying that we are no longer welcome. They have taken this action because our congregation has a female senior pastor. To these institutions, our commitment to equal treatment of women and men in the church is the sum of what makes us ‘us.’”

The liberals who left the SBC at the height of the Conservative Resurgence, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, sent a letter to the church, embracing them in their sin. The liberals were all-too-happy to receive them into warm fellowship.

In light of recent developments in the relationship between the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (TBC) and First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, TN, we, the undersigned, write to affirm our love and support for you. The Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship family stands with you.

We are grateful for your consistent willingness to seek and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Your commitment to the traditional Baptist hallmark of local church autonomy encourages us in our efforts to discern and act on the teachings of the Scriptures, as interpreted in light of Jesus Christ.

We welcome your new senior pastor, the Reverend Ellen Di Giosia, and look forward to working alongside her in the years to come. Rest assured, we shall support her ministry with our prayers, fellowship, and love.

We pledge our support for First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, as a full and cooperating partner in the Gospel ministry. And with gratitude for our historic and faithful kinship, we commit to pray God’s richest blessing on your future.

Di Giosia and her deacon chair, a man named John McGraw, issued a statement rebuking the Southern Baptists because it wasn’t the proper signal to be sending the lost, writing, “We urge Tennessee Baptists to consider the picture this paints for those who have yet to hear the gospel. Our culture is polarized and angry. We have an opportunity to demonstrate a different way of living — one that does not capitulate to the spirit of the age which says that if we do not agree on everything we cannot cooperate on anything.”

Those capitulating to the spirit of the age, clearly, are those with a lady behind the pulpit. So, good for Tennessee Southern Baptists. Now, if they would only disfellowship from those churches with females in other leadership positions besides Senior Pastor, but still have “pastor” in their title.