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Friday, November 10, 2017

Statement by Jefferson City First Baptist Church
Representatives of First Baptist Church of Jefferson City have issued a statement in response to a decision by the credentialing committee of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, to not seat their representatives at next week's Convention. The issue is that the church called Rev. Ellen Di Giosia as it's senior pastor, “in violation of Convention rules” which prohibit females from serving as pastors. The committee of the convention has labeled the church a "not a cooperating church" and says it won't be able to vote at next week's Tennessee Baptist Convention in Hendersonville. Southern Baptists' argue that only men may pastor a congregation. John McGraw, M.D. Deacon Chair, and Senior Pastor Di Giosia issued the joint statement in response to the credentialing committee decision; “We are saddened by the decision of the Credentials Committee not to seat the messengers of First Baptist Church Jefferson City at the upcoming Tennessee Baptist Convention. We have been partners in mission for more than 140 years, and the severance of such a connection is painful. The Tennessee Baptist Mission Board has the right to choose its partners, just as our congregation has the right to affiliate with whomever we choose. Baptist principles require it, and may it ever be so. But the number of things on which we agree is vast, and the list of things on which we disagree is very small. It is unfortunate that the Committee chooses to dismiss us without conversation or consultation. We urge Tennessee Baptists to consider the picture this paints for those who have yet to hear the Gospel. Our culture is polarized and angry. We have an opportunity to demonstrate a different way of living -- one that does not capitulate to the spirit of the age, which says that if we do not agree on everything, we cannot cooperate on anything. In choosing a different way, we believe that together we can be a witness of unity, which was Jesus’ desire for his people. We pray for our brothers and sisters at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board as they seek to be faithful to God, and we ask Tennessee Baptists and other believers to pray for our congregation as we do likewise. We will continue in mission with other partners and friends as we seek to be faithful to scripture, believing that "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female" as we "seek to be one in Christ Jesus." Therefore, we will nurture boys and girls, and men and women to be more fully conformed to the image of Christ. We will encourage all to listen for the calling of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and together we hope to follow where Christ's call leads.” The congregation is duelly aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

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