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Marilyn and I were privileged to attend the SBC in Indianapolis last week. Thank you for your generosity in sending us. Several other Haywood Baptist pastors, wives, and children were present also. Overall, it was a good meeting.

Let me hit the big issue that made national headlines first. You may have seen this: "Southern Baptists narrowly reject formal ban on churches with any women pastors," (Associated Press). It has been framed by some as Southern Baptists are now permitting women to be ordained as pastors/elders. FAKE NEWS!

First, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, clearly states that Scripture establishes that God has called men to shepherd God's flock. That has not changed.

Second, what was proposed in last year's convention was an amendment to the Constitution stating that only churches aligning with this belief and practice would be considered a "cooperating" church, permitted to seat messengers at the SBC. It received around 80% approval last year. A constitutional change, however, requires the approval of basically 67% of the messengers in two consecutive conventions. A strong majority--some 62% of the messengers--voted in favor of the amendment. But, that was not enough. A tiny number of those nearly 11,000 messengers are perhaps favorable to allowing churches with women pastors to continue to be seen as SBC churches. Most who voted against it believed that it was unnecessary to add this to the Constitution since the BF&M 2000 already articulates it.

Third, proof that the SBC is still solidly supportive of only male pastors/elders is seen in that a historic SBC church was "voted out,"--First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia--because they support women pastors. The vote was over 90% to remove them.

Fourth, the SBC is not against women in ministry. All God's children are gifted. Each member of the body is needed for ministry. Women are indispensable to the work of the church. Yet, God has created men and women for different roles in the home and the church.

We elected a fine President--Clint Pressley--Senior Pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. He is solid and will lead us well.

Reports were given and resolutions were passed. But, the highlight was the commissioning of 83 new missionaries by the International Mission Board. Many of these were just silhouettes, and the countries where they were going were not named, because the danger to them would be great. Here are people willing to put their lives on the line for the spread of the Gospel!

You can support Southern Baptist causes with your giving and praying with confidence that the Convention is doctrinally sound and mission-focused. Was I disappointed the amendment failed? Sure. But, it may be presented again. I want to encourage you to be personally involved in sending messengers to the convention. It is in Dallas, Texas next year. Every voice is needed and every vote counts.

Yours for the Gospel,

Dennis Thurman, AMS

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