A Note from Michael Gossett
I am so excited for this Sunday to jump back into “A Better Way” sermon series. This has been incredibly challenging and encouraging to walk through these Ten Commandments together. This Sunday we will continue with Commandment number nine in Exodus 20:16 that says, “Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.” This seems straight forward, but there are certain implications that you and I can easily overlook in this study. Be sure to help us spread the word about worshipping together. The greatest way for you to help people get connected to Green Acres is by simply inviting them.
I want to challenge you…. Will you make 3 phone calls, or send 3 texts to people and invite them to come with you to church? I have found that when I invite people, God does miraculous things in their lives. You never know the encouragement you might bring to someone by letting them know that you care so much for them that you are willing to invite them and sit with them in church. Be bold and be courageous for the Lord and send those invites! We have the best news the world has ever known, and yet there are still neighbors and friends around us who haven’t heard.
This weekend’s I Love America presentation is Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 3pm, and again Monday at 7pm. What a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to come celebrate the freedom we enjoy in America and, most importantly, our freedom in Christ Jesus!
Our Committee on Committees has submitted two selection committees for the church to affirm. The first committee is to find our next worship pastor to replace Mike Parks who is retiring in October. The second committee has been given the task to find several positions on our Discipleship Team. These positions are not all new positions, but positions that are budgeted for, but are either currently vacant, or will be vacant, by the end of the summer. We will vote on these two committees to affirm their appointment to serve this Sunday, June 26th following all worship services at the Tyler and Flint Campuses.
Worship Pastor Selection Committee:
- November Roberts (Chairman)
- Whitney Prosperi
- Steve Brand
- Jenna Meads
- Anna Grace Hardin
- Dave Robinson
- Charlie Myers
- Kyle Jackson
Discipleship Team Selection Committee:
- Gregg Eppler (Chairman)
- Lori Sirman
- Mike Murphy
- Jim Nipp
- Shanda Proctor
- Michelle Small
- Colton Rudd
Please be in prayer for these two committees as they seek the Lord’s direction and serve this church well.
Many of you have asked about the state of the Southern Baptist Convention. This past week I was able to attend the annual meeting in Anaheim, California. There was a great deal of anxiety and tension leading up to the meeting because of everything that has been seen and heard in the news about sexual abuse. If you are unaware, I want to bring you up to speed as best I can.
On Sunday, May 22, a report issued by the Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Guidepost Solutions, a third-party entity hired to conduct an independent investigation, found a decades-long history of mishandling sexual abuse claims by the SBC Executive Committee. The messengers to the SBC’s annual meeting in June 2021 requested this investigation, the task force, and the report.
If you can read the report (link below), you will find every emotion attached to it. The report is both heartbreaking and infuriating. You may wonder what this may or may not have to do with Green Acres. Every church is autonomous according to our ecclesiology on a biblical level, as well as the Southern Baptist polity at large. With that being said, we, as an autonomous church, are in voluntary cooperation with the SBC. At this time, Green Acres has no plans to sever the wonderful relationship that we have had since the formation of our church in 1955. As a church, we have closely viewed our policies and procedures that are in place, regarding sexual abuse, and we are always looking for better ways of training our staff and volunteers to protect God’s people. We take this matter very seriously and we desire to provide the safest environment for everyone.
*Additional information: The report from Guidepost Solutions and other task force information is available here. The Executive Committee has established a hotline for allegations of abuse within the SBC and for survivors to seek help: 202.864.5578
With this as a backdrop, I am proud of the response of our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters. There were several recommendations and resolutions that passed with flying colors. This was a historic moment in the life of the SBC. The SATF recommended the formation of an Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force that will be appointed by the newly elected president, Bart Barber. There is also the recommendation to develop a “Ministry Check” website to share “properly vetted information.” The names that will be listed on the website will be people who have been credibly accused according to this recommendation by the Task Force. This is an effort to eliminate the ability for ministers who have been credibly accused to move on to a different church only to potentially have the abuse happen again. These recommendations were overwhelmingly approved and will set the course for a new standard for the SBC.
It is also exciting to share that 52 new IMB missionaries were commissioned and sent at the meeting. For me, this is a highlight to the meeting and to our convention. This is why cooperation is incredibly important, and this is the tangible evidence of that effort. These IMB missionaries were commissioned to areas across the globe including North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. Dr. Paul Chitwood, IMB President, addressed the messengers at the meeting and reminded all of us of the world’s greatest problem, which is lostness and we have the answer, which is Jesus.
There were other conversations that took place revolving around the credentials committee and the disfellowshipping of Saddleback Church. The issue is centered on Saddleback and Rick Warren ordaining women to pastoral ministry. This is seen most clearly in recent days after Pastor Rick Warren named his successor which includes the new Pastor’s wife as “Teaching Pastor”. This raised several valuable questions about the office of Pastor and where the SBC stood in regard to that office. I walked away encouraged from this conversation because the Southern Baptist Convention has already made it abundantly clear in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (you can view that document here), that the role of Pastor is reserved for males. In the BFM 2000, Article VI. The Church, it says, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” This does not seem to be in question by the majority of churches and messengers represented at the annual meeting. The problem facing this particular issue for the credentials committee is whether or not Saddleback’s ordaining women to be pastor’s is sufficient ground for disfellowship.
With all of that being said, I am pleased and relieved to recognize that there is not any theological drift in the Southern Baptist Convention. This has been stated by some who are looking to prove “theological drift,” but it does not mean it is actually there. With all of the evidence in place, I am proud to be a Southern Baptist, and I am proud of you (Green Acres Baptist Church) for the continued investment in cooperative giving. I write this to give you my general synopsis of the convention, but to also tell you, thank you. Thank you for your generosity and thank you for your continued allegiance to sound biblical doctrine, even when the culture continues to stray. Our foundation is firm because Christ is our solid rock on which we stand.
I also want to say…. Thank you for allowing me to be your Pastor. I do not take this calling lightly and I love serving this church!
You are loved and you are prayed for!