MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thousands of people are heading to Birmingham for the start of Southern Baptist Convention including many from right here in Memphis.
The convention gets underway Tuesday morning with plans to tackle a number of hot button issues.
“As I discerned my own call to ministry, I found the church that which I had been raised and called to faith had no place for me to serve because of my gender,” Dr. Courtney Pace of Memphis Theological Seminary.
Pace says she had to leave her home church within the Southern Baptist denomination.
The church doesn’t allow women to be pastors, or take senior leadership roles.
During the 2019 Southern Baptist convention in Birmingham, the group will consider electing Beth Moore, who would serve as their first female president.
“What I fear will happen is that her candidacy will not be taken seriously,” Dr. Pace said.
The convention will also be tackling sexual abuse within the church.
“I’m seeing a lot of churches have a renewed since of gravity when it comes to these issues to say how do we make sure this doesn’t happen,” said Dr. Russell Moore.
Moore, who is with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says every Southern Baptist church will be given a comprehensive curriculum on how to deal with sexual abuse within their church.
“We know church sex abuse is out there, but we don’t think it can happen in our church. As you know, that empowers sexual abuse because that sense of invulnerability is exactly what predators use in order to prey upon people,” Dr. Moore said.
But Dr. Pace says her research shows in churches where women are allowed to hold leadership positions you don’t see the kinds of sexual abuse in male only led groups.
“If they wanted to address the issue of sexual abuse within the church they would need to engage in complete overhaul of their envision of race, gender and class and authority,” she said.
Dr. Moore says that although women are not allowed to be pastors, they are stepping up in other leadership positions in high numbers.