In a press conference Wednesday, Barber addressed the hot topics of the meeting—women’s roles and sexual abuse—as well as the hope represented by how many missionaries the SBC had commissioned Tuesday morning.
“We have appointed and sent 76 new missionaries. And if you’re Southern Baptist for a long time, you don’t even really know how newsworthy that is,” said Barber. “There are Baptist denominations in our country whose total mission force would be half or less of just the number of new missionaries that we appointed to put on the field in our time yesterday morning.”
“Maybe that’s newsworthy because it’s not controversial,” he remarked. “Everybody in that room is supportive of that effort. And it’s that work that we do that draws [people to] the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Later in his remarks, the SBC president noted that the messengers clearly communicated the denomination believes women are not to serve in the office of a pastor, even though women remain active and gifted members of the Convention. He commented on the churches that were disfellowshipped, as well as how SBC churches should handle the titling of the roles of women in church leadership.
Barber also praised the work of the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF), whose members he had previously appointed to address sexual abuse within the denomination. He emphasized the valuable role the ARITF has in helping local, autonomous churches. “Our churches are all autonomous, but our churches want help,” he said. “We want the Southern Baptist Convention to be a place that churches can turn to, to get the help they need in order to be able to improve on these fronts.”
On Wednesday, it was announced that all three churches that had appealed their removal from the SBC lost those appeals by significant majorities.
In the case of Saddleback, over 11,000 messengers were present during the time of the vote, and 9,437 messengers (88.46%) voted to uphold the church’s removal, while 1,212 (11.36%) voted to allow the church to remain in the SBC.
In a press conference following the announcement, Rick Warren said, “I wasn’t expecting to win…We actually had about 700 more votes than I figured we’d get.” He explained, “I fought for this because if you love something, you fight for it.”
Warren called the SBC ruling “hypocritical,” but stopped short of saying that those who oppose women in church leadership are sinning. “I’m not going to tell other people that they are sinning,” he said. “But I will tell you this. I was sinning when I held women back.”
Messengers responded favorably to Mike Law’s proposed constitutional amendment that says women cannot be pastors in the SBC. The amendment states that a church in cooperation with the denomination “affirms, appoints, or employs only men as any kind of pastor or elder as qualified by Scripture.”