FEBCC by-law

You may be sick to death of the whole gender debate on this blog. I’m getting there too. I promise I’m almost done for the time being, but this e-mail is worth sharing. It went out to every e-mail address we could find from our denominational directory. I’m a signatory, but not the author. Feel free to skip this if your eyes are glazing over. Otherwise, here it is:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: In less than two months we will be voting again at the FEBCC national convention on a proposal to define a particular view of gender and church office as a requirement for membership in our denomination.  This time the proposal comes not from an ad hoc group, but from our national council. Although we do not lightly reject decisions made by our elected leaders, we believe that this proposal should not be accepted, and we write this to encourage you to consider voting No at convention and to share your reasoning with others in your church.  We, the undersigned, hold various views on gender and church office, but we agree that there is good reason for both complementarians and egalitarians to vote No to this motion.  Some reasons are as follows. 1. The question confronting each of us is NOT, “Do I believe in male-only pastors/elders/overseers?”  The question is, “Do I believe that male-only pastors/elders/overseers is a principle that is clearly taught in Scripture and is sufficiently important to serve as a test of inter-church fellowship?”  Holding complementarian views does not necessitate voting Yes to this motion.  It is crucial that we understand the exact nature of the question. 2. The biblical evidence on this question is not as clear as we might like, and we ought to admit that.  Clearly there are biblical texts which seem to speak strongly about limiting women’s role in the church, but there are much more positive texts as well.  What are we to make of the clear affirmation that women prophesy just as men do?  How extensive are the implications of Galatians 3:28?  It seems that 1 Timothy 2:12 is the crucial text in this debate, but that text does not use the language of church office at all. Isn’t 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 also clear in its prohibition of all female speech in church, even asking questions for information, yet we easily treat that text as limited in its force?  Given these interpretive difficulties, is it really wise to shut down the debate? 3. We were assured a year ago that we would be given opportunity for serious, public discussion of this issue, but that has not happened.  At last year’s convention, after both motions failed, we were told that there was a recognized need for serious study of this question.  The chair of our national council said in print that our polarization on the issue demanded open dialogue before moving to a decision (EB, January/February 2003, p. 7), along the lines of the early church’s discussion recorded in Acts 15, but no mechanism for discussion has been provided.  Perhaps the council engaged the issue at a biblical-theological level in private, but they have not given us a reasoned case for their proposal.  How can we define a test of fellowship without detailed presentation and defence of the biblical support for this move? 4. Although this proposal concerns only the practice of member churches and does not bind the conscience by including this in the doctrinal statement, practice and opinion can’t be so neatly separated.  Divergence between belief and practice may be necessary as a temporary expedient, but it can’t go on forever.  Passing this motion will likely drive from the Fellowship those churches that are inclined toward an egalitarian view of church office and perhaps many churches that simply want the freedom to re-examine their practice.  Relegating this statement to the definition of a member church while keeping it out of the doctrinal statement is not as significant as some think. 5. There is a better way forward, a way that affirms in practice our commitment to live under the unique authority of Scripture.  We could agree to refrain from divisive moves for a time, during which time we would create meetings for open, honest discussion of the biblical and theological evidence.  Our national council could oversee this process directly, or they could create a task force to manage it.  In the end, we might conclude that male-only eldership is clearly implied by Scripture, and/or that it is a sufficiently volatile question that the unity of believers would be best served by demanding uniformity of practice.  But we need to be convinced that such is the case before we make this move, so let’s take the time to think it through.  As far as we can tell, Fellowship churches are not rushing to appoint female pastors/elders/overseers, so it appears that we have the time to do this carefully and openly. We send this communication with a desire that we find the best way to function as the people of God under the rule of the Word of God.  May God make us wise and courageous. Signatories, in alphabetical order Paul Allen (Sr. Pastor, Willowdale Baptist Church, Toronto, ON) Kent Anderson (Northwest Baptist Seminary) Hugh Caldwell (Elder, Bramalea Baptist Church, Brampton, ON) Ian Campbell (Sr. Pastor, Bramalea Baptist Church, Brampton, ON) Bruce Christensen (Regional Director, FEBBC/Y) Jim Cianca (Heritage Baptist College; Cedar Creek Community Baptist Church, Cambridge, ON) Darryl Dash (Sr. Pastor, Richview Baptist Church, Toronto, ON) Barry Duguid (Sr. Pastor, High Park Baptist Church, Toronto, ON) Ian Elliott (Pastor, Cedar Creek Community Baptist Church, Cambridge, ON) Kim Evans (Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship; Grandview Baptist Church, Kitchener, ON) Stan Fowler (Heritage Seminary; Grandview Baptist Church, Kitchener, ON) Harold and Lorna Fuller (SIM, retired; Melrose Baptist Church, Toronto, ON) Jack Hannah (Sr. Pastor, Westney Heights Baptist Church, Ajax, ON) Paul and Diana Havercroft (Sr. Pastor, Melrose Baptist Church, Toronto, ON) Jon Korkidakis (Pastor, Masonville Community Baptist Church, London, ON) Terry Lee (Worship Ministries Director, Bramalea Baptist Church, Brampton, ON) Earl Marshall (Sr. Pastor, Orangeville Baptist Church, Orangeville, ON) Roy Matheson (Pastor, Chartwell Baptist Church, Oakville, ON) Mike Mawhorter (Pastor, Ladner Baptist Church, Delta, BC) Francis Mpindu (Sr. Pastor, Fellowship Baptist Church, Markham, ON) Mark Naylor (Northwest Baptist Seminary) Brian Stewart (Sr. Pastor, Oxford Baptist Church, Woodstock, ON) Bryan Swash (Sr. Pastor, Dorset Park Baptist Church, Toronto, ON)
Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada