The Council of the Baptist Union of Great Britain recently spent three days discussing “Women in Leadership among the churches.” This wasn’t a debate about whether women can exercise ministerial leadership. That was established back in the 1920s and affirmed many times since. It was about some of the attitudes women encounter when they explore a leadership calling, not least to pastoral ministry.
I understand that many wise words were spoken, and as I favour an “equalitarian” position on the role of women in church life, the outcome was pleasing. But the matter raises a difficult question: how should Baptists respond to dissenters among them? David Kerrigan blogged about this on 19 March, and makes some helpful comments:
Whilst Baptists would never wish to stifle dissent, nor act punitively towards those who do so, there was a courageous recognition that whilst there is a place for conscientious dissent, this must never, ever occasion the kind of hurts that were recounted this week. Further, prejudice masquerading as dissent could no longer be tolerated.