Among Chinese Southern Baptists, women continue to use the pa…… | news report

The title pastor is used for women in Southern Chinese Baptist churches because of language, history and culture, but it does not indicate church-wide authority, said the Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the USA and Canada (CBFUSA). ) in an official statement.

Rather, the title “Reverend” is used to denote authority in the South China Baptist Church, is conferred through ordination and is limited to men, the CBFUSA board of directors said in its Nov. 3 report. . statement“Women in Ministry: Roles and Titles in Chinese Baptist Churches.”

The group issued the statement to inform Southern Baptists of the unique circumstances Chinese Southern Baptists face when using the title pastor, and in light of votes of the messengers at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting, indicating the title will be limited to men, CBFUSA senior liaison Amos Lee told Baptist Press.

“We feel the need to clarify the unique situation in Chinese Baptist churches, most of which are affiliated with Southern Baptists, regarding the designation we use for ministers serving in our churches to avoid misunderstandings about our position on the light of the theme of ‘The pastors debated in the SBC of 2023,’ Lee said.

“It is also important because we want those in SBC leadership to consider and be aware of the diversity we have within the larger family of Southern Baptists, whose practices and nuances that are unique to our communities due to history and culture, especially in language that is somehow ‘lost in translation.'”

Women today hold the titles of pastor, minister, evangelist, teacher and “biblical women” in Southern China Baptist churches, according to the official statement, based on at least five Chinese words and their English translations. Additionally, because the fellowship recently adopted the title pastor for non-ordained ministers, the Chinese word for minister also translates as pastor.

“The practice is not based on fidelity or obedience to Scripture, but rather on history and language,” the statement reads. “In addition, the Baptist principle regarding the autonomy of local churches allows individual churches to practice male headship/leadership in their local context based on history and language.”

Women have been vital in Chinese church ministry for generations, the statement says, because many of the early converts in China were women who were influential in evangelism and church planting “similar to Lydia in Philippi.”

“Due to persecution and lack of mature male leaders, women played a critical role in evangelism, teaching and discipleship” historically, according to the statement. “This still occurs today within the Chinese church in China and among the Chinese diaspora, including North America, with women having pastoral roles and caring responsibilities for women’s, children’s and youth, administrative and other ministries, under the male leadership of a senior pastor. “

Several Chinese Southern Baptist churches use the title pastor for several women in ministry, Lee said, but an exact number was not available.

Eliminating the use of the word pastor would be culturally burdensome for Chinese-speaking congregations, but the CBFUSA leaves each congregation free to make their own decisions regarding the term.

“For us, the word translated ‘pastor’ in English best describes our understanding of the role that God’s servants play in the church. They are the shepherds of the church of God in every aspect of the role they play,” Lee told Baptist Press.

“We will not dictate to the churches what they should do and we will let them make the changes, but we do not see any word in English that better describes the role they have historically, theologically and semantically.”

CBFUSA is the second ethnic Southern Baptist fellowship to issue a statement on the roles and titles of women in ministry, following a open letter July 3 SBC National African American Scholarship.

Messengers to the 2023 SBC Annual Assembly in New Orleans deemed two churches not in friendly cooperation with the SBC for having female pastors, amended Article VI of Baptist Faith and Message 2000 to specify that “the office of pastor/ elder/overseer is limited to men qualified by the Scriptures,” and passed the first of two votes required to amend Article III of the SBC Constitution to specify that only churches that employ “only men as any type of pastor or elder qualified by the Scriptures” can be considered in friendship. cooperation with the SBC.

The messengers also approved the creation of a study group composed of both genders to explore the factors that define friendly cooperation for SBC churches. The group is tasked with reporting its findings to messengers in 2024.

The full CBFUSA statement is available here.

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