It appears that the Georgia Baptist Convention will lose one of their churches. The Associated Baptist Press is reporting this possible separation between the GBC and FBC Decatur, GA. You can read the article here. The reason for this separation is the result of FBC calling a woman as the senior pastor in 2007. There are many opinions as to whether or not this separation should happen. Each SBC church is autonomous and is able to establish their own rules and call the staff members they choose. On the other hand, churches choose to cooperate with their state conventions and SBC because they share like-minded purposes and share the statement of belief known as the Baptist Faith and Message.
I believe heart of the matter here is not whether or not FBC Decatur had the right to call a female pastor. They certainly had that right. The issue is whether or not the GBC can consider FBC Decatur out of fellowship based on the long held and recently affirmed position that scripture teaches that the role of the pastor should be filled by men. I would expect the GBC, as well as the Florida Baptist Convention, of which I am the pastor of a cooperating church, to consider an SBC that calls a female as pastor to be out of fellowship.
In the article above, a hint is given as to how all of this came about. FBC Decatur has ties with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The CBF is a baptist denomination that broke away from the SBC because of their liberal views on issues such as this one.
What would this separation mean for FBC Decatur? In the event the GBC considered Decatur out of fellowship, they would lose all voting rights at the annual meetings. The separation would also mean the GBC would no longer accept contributions on behalf of FBC Decatur. This is not a matter of just votes and money, it goes much deeper than that. It is a matter of biblical principle. State conventions are not out for just the money the church can contribute. There comes a time when a stand for the Bible must be made, regardless of the outcome.