In June 2023, the Southern Baptist Convention met in New Orleans and passed a motion proposing an amendment to Article III of the SBC Constitution which states that churches in “friendly cooperation” with the Convention must “affirm, endorse, or approve only men as any kind of pastor or elder as qualified by Scripture.”  The motion will require a second vote in 2024 to be included formally in the Constitution.

Although this motion is new, conflict surrounding the diversity of beliefs regarding women in ministry is not new to the Southern Baptist Convention.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions dissuading churches from affirming women in ministry, including women serving as deacons. 

In 1991, the First Baptist Church of Vero Beach formed a Denominational Relations Committee to recommend responses to this trend.  The Committee, with the support of the congregation, voted for the “inclusiveness and mutual respect within its membership” by supporting the formation and ongoing ministry of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida as “alternative channels of mission giving.” The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship affirms the full inclusion of women in ministry. 

In 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention then voted to revise the Baptist Faith and Message to state that “only the office of pastor is reserved for men.”  This statement denied the full context and scholarly interpretation of a few biblical passages, such as 1 Timothy, all while denying various historical and biblical theological factors that contribute to the full inclusion of men and women in ministry. 

For that reason, the First Baptist Church of Vero Beach declined to adopt the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and upheld the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message as its guiding statement of beliefs.  

The congregation also reaffirmed its commitment to the inclusion of women in ministry by ordaining women to the deacon ministry (as it had been doing for decades) and by ordaining the Reverend Sarah Brown to the Gospel ministry in 2004 in her capacity as Children’s Pastor.

In 2016, while the First Baptist Church of Vero Beach was searching for a new senior pastor, the congregation once again upheld its commitment to the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message.

The First Baptist Church of Vero Beach remains committed to these convictions and missional actions:

  • We are Southern Baptist because of who we are as the First Baptist Church of Vero Beach. We are Southern Baptist in identity, polity, and theological leaning.
  • We will uphold our commitment in supporting missionaries with the SBC International Mission Board, the SBC North American Mission Board, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Actions from the Southern Baptist Convention, local Association, or State Convention will not hinder our financial and spiritual obligations to our partners in ministry.
  • We will continue to respond to the Lord’s leading in every aspect of life, ministry, and leadership at the First Baptist Church of Vero Beach and affirm the full inclusion of both men and women in ministry and leadership as it has for nearly a half of a century. We will not do so out of discord or antipathy, but out of obedience to Christ and a passion for fulfilling the Great Commission call to save the lost and be the presence of Christ in the world today. 
Revised 2 July 2023