The Rev. Paul Baxley is the executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a Christian network comprising people and churches that partner in renewing God’s world. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.
Like their sisters and brothers in the Southern Baptist Convention this week, Cooperative Baptists will gather in Birmingham next week. We will wrestle with many of the questions that our SBC friends are as we seek to be faithful to the call of Christ in a changing world.
One question we won’t be considering is whether God calls women to serve as pastors. In fact, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will vote next week on the nomination of a woman senior pastor to serve as our top elected leader.
We will also commission missionaries, chaplains and church starters who are women. Present at our General Assembly will be women who already serve as pastors of their congregations, and contrary to the belief of some, those congregations are inviting people to faith in Jesus, living Jesus’ love in their communities and thriving even in challenging places.
If you are seeking such a Baptist community, there is room among us for you.
Many Cooperative Baptists, including me, believe strongly that our actions in this regard are faithful to the leading of the Holy Spirit and are absolutely supported by Scripture. According to the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, one of the first Christmas sermons was preached by the aging prophet Anna, who “spoke about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
John’s Gospel tells us that a woman from Samaria preached so compellingly about her encounter with Jesus that “many Samaritans believed in him because of the woman’s testimony,” giving her a key role in establishing a community of disciples in Samaria.
There are more examples of women’s important roles in the early church. Had it not been for the faithful proclamation of women, none of Jesus’ male disciples would have heard the good news of the resurrection. When the church went public on the Day of Pentecost, women as well as men were preaching in the streets in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that “sons and daughters will prophesy.”
Let’s not forget Paul, who acknowledges quite openly in his first letter to the Corinthians that women and men will both prophesy and pray in the gathered community of the church. When Paul lists apostles in the 16th chapter of his letter to the Romans, one of the most prominent is a woman named Junia.
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Source: Religion News Service