Odds & Ends -- By: Anonymous
JBMW 16:2 (Fall 2011) p. 5
Odds & Ends
Will the CBF Really Pay Churches to Consider a Woman as Pastor?
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Associated Baptist Press reports that a state Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is now offering financial incentives in order to encourage pulpit search committees to consider women candidates.
According to the report, “The CBF of Missouri offered Sept. 17 to pay interview, travel and other expenses incurred by search committees willing to ‘include a woman candidate in the process … treating her as a top candidate even if she isn’t actually one of the top candidates,’ CBFMO Associate Coordinator Jeff Langford explained in a handout distributed at a Coordinating Council meeting at Memorial Baptist Church in Columbia, Mo.”
No, I am not making this up. Langford added, “Even if the church isn’t ready, the search committee may discover a remarkable candidate along the way that changes their perspective, either for the current search or for a future one.”
The motivation for the concept is clear—those who are offering these incentives are frustrated that few churches are calling women as senior pastors. According to the ABP report, the idea to offer financial incentives came out of a meeting in which several other ideas were also offered. This is the idea that made headlines.
Though the CBF promotes women as pastors, a 2005 study indicated that few of its own churches had called, or had even considered calling, a woman as pastor. The authors of that study stated their findings in clear terms:
Never before have so many Baptist women officially served as pastors and co-pastors, and yet statistically the great majority of Baptist churches affiliated with the Alliance, BGAV, BGCT, and CBF have not called women to serve as pastor.
Even within the ranks of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, where the leadership sincerely supports women as senior pastors, their churches are still very unlikely to call a woman as pastor. There are a few highly visible women who do serve in senior pastor positions, but they are rare exceptions to the general rule.
My point is not to accuse the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or its leadership of hypocrisy, for there is no reason to question the sincerity of their beliefs. I believe that their convictions are wrong, not that their stance is insincere. Indeed, their frustration at the slow pace of change in this regard seems authentic—thus this new policy in Missouri.
And yet, the policy does seem clumsy, at best. Paying search committees to consider women as top candidates? That is awkward enough. But, paying them to treat a woman “as a top candidate even if she isn’t actua...
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