McALLEN – Following a 30-minute discussion during the second business session, messengers to the 2023 Texas Baptists Family Gathering adopted an amended motion to affirm women in ministry.
The amended motion requests “that the Executive Board resources BGCT staff to continue developing more strategies, resources, and advocacy initiatives to assist churches in affirming, appointing, and employing women in ministerial and leadership roles.”
The motion was one of two made in the first business session regarding women in ministry. Both motions were ruled out of order by the Committee on Annual Meeting, which worked with the authors to have them submitted again with revisions.
Meredith Stone, a messenger from Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, offered an updated motion, which would have “instructed” the BGCT Executive Board to “have staff create programs, resources and initiatives in affirming, appointing and employing women in ministerial and pastoral roles.”
“Texas Baptists need to take action in order to demonstrate that we truly value women in ministry,” Stone said. “We need to put feet to any professed support we have ever made.”
Dustin Slaton, pastor of First Baptist Church of Round Rock, proposed the amendment, saying for churches which “hold a conviction that the Bible provides clear gender distinctions when it comes to church leadership,” the original motion would “send a clear, and I would say unkind, message that their view on the subject is no longer welcome in the BGCT.”
Despite opposition from Stone, Slaton’s amendment was adopted by messengers, who then adopted the amended motion.
Slaton said the amended motion would “maintain the neutrality that is currently alive in our convention, which still provides room for churches on both sides of the issue to cooperate together for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and at the same time we can still promote the cause of women in our denomination.”
Andrew Bedo, pastor of Oak Ridge Baptist Church in San Antonio, said the BGCT has been a “large tent convention,” and Slaton’s amendment would continue to allow “room for people with different viewpoints.”
But Stone said the amendment would “substantively” change the intent of the original motion. She said the motion was prompted because the Southern Baptist Convention “has taken significant action in restricting women’s roles in ministry and diminishing their value to God’s work.”
Messengers to the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting, held in June in New Orleans, approved a constitutional amendment that would limit the role of pastor or elder to men. In order to take effect, the amendment must be approved again by a two-thirds vote at the 2024 Annual Meeting.
As a result of the SBC’s action, Stone said, “women in ministry have been hurting deeply. … This is a moment when women in ministry need us.”
Noting that fewer than 1% of the approximately 5,300 BGCT cooperating churches have women as senior pastors and pointing to the composition of various BGCT committees and convention assignments, Stone said “these numbers do not represent equality.”
Hannah Coe, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist in Waco, was among several others who spoke for the motion. Several messengers also spoke against the motion, and messengers voted to add 10 more minutes for debate.
Speaking against the amendment, Coe said the BGCT needs “to further differentiate ourselves from the SBC,” and the amendment was “a clear statement against women serving in pastoral roles.”
After the conclusion of the business session, Craig Christina, Texas Baptists’ acting executive director, said the adopted motion “preserved our unity under a big tent by voting to affirm women and affirm the autonomy of the local church in calling out the called.”
“We are committed to assisting Texas Baptists churches as they commission, and Texas Baptist universities and seminaries as they equip, women and men for ministry,” he said. “BGCT staff are excited to follow the guidance of messengers to the convention to provide more resources and initiatives to support churches interested in calling men or women to the gospel ministry.”
Ellis Orozco, a messenger from First Baptist Richardson (and the church’s former senior pastor) had planned to submit a revised motion moving that the BGCT Executive Board “develop resources to assist churches interested in calling and employing women in ministerial and pastoral roles,” but said because of the passage of the first motion, he was “respectfully” withdrawing the motion.
Debbie Potter was announced as second vice president. Potter, minister of children at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, was elected over Glenn Lackey, a lay leader at Canyon Creek Baptist Church in Temple. Potter received 173 votes and Lackey received 133 votes during the Monday morning election of officers, at which time Convention president Julio Guarneri and first vice president Ronny Marriott were elected unopposed.
When giving his nomination for Potter, Matt Homeyer, senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, said, “In my time working with Dr. Potter, I have found her to be a highly gifted, strongly called, deeply experienced minister of the gospel.”
In other business, messengers approved a recommendation from the Committee on Annual Meeting to hold the 2026 Texas Baptist Annual Meeting in Waco. The 2024 Annual Meeting will also be in Waco; the 2025 Annual Meeting is set for Abilene.