[Note: I, like many pastors, write a regular column for our church's weekly newsletter. This Sunday evening, the Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, GA will discuss and vote on a recommendation to change our by-laws so as to remove our present restriction of our Deacon ministry to men and thus open such service up to women. What follows is the column I wrote for this week's newsletter, the last one before the Church Conference at which we will consider this important matter.]
As you know, we will at our Church Conference this Sunday evening discuss and vote on a proposed by-law change that would change our church’s policy of restricting Deacon service to men and thus make it possible for women to serve as Deacons. One good thing that comes from such a discussion is that we all become even more interested than usual in what the Bible says.
A couple of passages from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians have been on my mind as we have prayed, talked, and walked together through our consideration of this matter.
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Another good thing that can come from a discussion like this one is that it can provide an opportunity for the church family to show that it is indeed a family that speaks and acts in ways that show that we are growing in unity, in peace, in hope, in faith, and especially in love. As your Pastor I want you to know how proud I have been of the Christian love and grace that you have displayed toward each other as we have moved toward a decision on this important matter. The Spirit, love, and grace of Christ that are in us have been evident and I am sure they will continue to be evident as we discuss and vote on the proposal Sunday evening and as we move forward to live, love, and serve in light of our decision.
Yet another good thing that can from a discussion like this one is that we all spend extra time praying. As we continue to pray, let’s remember the prayer that Jesus prayed for us:
I ask…that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)