The president of the North American Mission Board, the church planting arm of the Southern Baptist Convention has responded to widespread ballyhoo regarding their recent Florida church plant 1Name Church having a woman as the lead pastor, urging members to keep things private and stop calling people out on it.
The woman at the center of it, Jamie Farver is aggressively and prominently marketed all throughout the church website and social media as a “pastor” and “lead pastor” even though that is strictly prohibited by the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the official position document of the SBC.
With the ruckus raised to the appropriate level, Kevin Ezell, the man overseeing NAMB has responded writing:
Someone perhaps needs to tell them that, because I don’t think they got the memo, or that they “wholeheartedly agree.” Rather, it’s evident they wholeheartedly disagree, leading one to wonder why they directed resources to this plant rather than others who actually would agree. In fact, who is the sending Church? These things don’t happen ex nihilo. Are we supposed to believe that the sending SBC church faithfully ascribes to the BF&M 2000 when they unleashed that upon the world? Hardly. He continues:
Unfortunately, because NAMB is not a transparent organization where the grassroot churches have easy access to information and to have their voices heard, this sort of slow-moving behemoth only responds to vocal negative attention and pots-and-pans-banging brouhaha, particularly when it threatens their bottom line. Michael Miller on Twitter points out:
Excuse me, but this is occurring PUBLICLY under your watch. It should be addressed publicly. If this church is under your responsibility, where is the oversight? How does that “shared theology” you reference look to the watching world when we don’t actually follow it?
Lastly, Ezell reiterates:
Uhhhh, that ship has already sailed. It’s not a matter of them carelessly calling her a “pastor” by accident, or in some way being loose and imprecise with her title: it’s all over their brand. She’s routinely called the “Lead Pastor.”
In their “About Us” section it reads, “She has over 10 years of full-time ministry experience and has a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Trinity International University. Because of her experience, Jamie is well acquainted with both the joys and struggles of pioneering a local church.”
You’re not going to get that cat back in the bag unless you tranquilize it and stuff it back in there. The odds of them scrubbing their website and all media chyrons of any mention of her being a pastor, and then releasing a statement to the church that she is not a pastor, being not biblically qualified, and should never have called herself one, is next to zero.
We’ll check in a few months to see where they land, but we’re not optimistic. If this is the quality of churches that the SBC is helping plant, that people’s cooperative program dollars are going to, they need to think long and hard about whether they want to keep on giving until the SBC smartens up.