Bearing the Baptist name in recent years has been a challenge, to say the least. Especially in the South where only one kind of Baptist is “King.” When I confess that I’m a Baptist minister, people get quiet and ask just what kind of Baptist church would ordain someone who looks like me – a woman! At this point, explanations about how my church and I are not that kind of Baptist ensue, leading us down the dark path of Baptist history, one with many splits over theological and dogmatic debates.
Early this year, when the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship released its “Illumination Project” report, I thought Baptists were on the verge of another epic split: those who are welcoming and affirming of LGBTQ persons versus those who are, well, . . . not. (I’m aware that there are also many Baptist Christians who are somewhere on the “undecided” continuum). This imminent split was further solidified in my mind when I read the 43-page Implementation Plan. It includes the statement that CBF will only employ persons for leadership positions who “practice a traditional Christian sexual ethic of celibacy in singleness or faithfulness in marriage between a woman and a man.”
Knowing that I’d be presenting a workshop at this summer’s annual gathering, I believed in my gut that I would be attending the final gathering of the CBF as we knew it.
Chrissy Tatum Williamson is the Associate Minister at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. She is a graduate of Furman University (B.A.), Wake Forest University School of Divinity (M.Div), and Union (New York) Theological Seminary (M.A.).