Georgia Baptists delivered an overwhelming "yes" vote for the 2000 faith and message, a statement of Baptist beliefs, during their state convention in Savannah's civic center on Tuesday.
About two out of three of the 3,500 church representatives expressed their support for the confessional statement by raising cards.
"The people who came here to oppose it were disappointed," but there was no real hostility, said the Rev. William Harrell, pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez.
He and Dr. Frank Page, pastor of Warren Baptist Church, spoke in support of the statement, which upholds the traditional view that the role of pastor is limited to men.
Critics have complained that the statement, passed by the Southern Baptist Convention in June, puts the authority of the Bible above that of Jesus Christ and limits the autonomy of each congregation.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Arkansas Baptist Convention rejected the statement. Former President Jimmy Carter, who dissociated himself from the denomination, lobbied against its acceptance.
But there was little mentioned about Texas, the Rev. Harrell said. "I spoke at one point and said, `That is Texas and this is Georgia. We don't need to be worried about Texas."'
Dr. Page said the new document is not going to be used to beat anybody over the head spiritually. "I encourage people to quit listening to what others are saying about it and to read it for themselves."
The document is a confession,not a creed, that clearly states what Baptists believe about the Bible and the doctrines of the Baptist faith, he said.
Dr. Don Berry, pastor of The Hill Baptist Church, did not attend the convention. However, he said that it is clear, according to the historical and biblical model, that women were not pastors; yet, "the local church under the Lordship of Christ must determine its own expression of the role and ministry of women."
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336.
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