SBC President Steve Gaines Addresses Racial Diversity & Paige Patterson

Responding to questions about his committee appointments and controversy involving a Southern Baptist seminary leader, SBC President Steve Gaines released a statement today (May 11) to Baptist Press.

Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., specifically addresses the controversy involving past statements by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson on women, divorce and domestic violence. Gaines’ statement also touched on racial diversity and ways Southern Baptists can pray for the SBC leading up to its annual meeting in Dallas, June 12-13.

See full statement below.


Thank you, Southern Baptists, for allowing me the privilege of serving as your president for the past two years. It has been a joy and honor to travel and see what our Lord is doing throughout our SBC family at the local church, association, state and national levels. As we approach our annual convention in Dallas, I want to address some issues that affect all of us.

Many have discussed the need for racial diversity in the various levels of SBC leadership. That has been a priority of my presidency. The church I pastor is becoming increasingly racially diverse and I am grateful for that. All who love God and believe the Bible should love all people, regardless of race or ethnicity. I believe the vast majority of Southern Baptists genuinely feel the same way. I have sought racial diversity in the appointments I have made and I am confident my successors will do the same.

I also want to address the issues regarding comments made by one of our seminary presidents, Dr. Paige Patterson. I praise God for the leadership he gave to the SBC during the Conservative Resurgence. I am also grateful for his leadership at my alma mater, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have talked with him in person and by phone regarding his comments and told him that I disagree with the counsel he gave to a woman who was married to an abusive husband. I personally believe that if a husband abuses his wife physically, the wife should immediately: 1) notify the police and follow their instructions, 2) remove herself and her children physically from the abusive husband under the protection of police for her safety, and 3) notify the family’s pastor so the church can engage in church discipline toward the abuser. The church should also seek to come alongside the woman and help her in any way possible to ensure her protection and care.

Regarding Dr. Patterson’s more recent remarks about a teenage girl, I believe they were improper. While I love him and appreciate him, I disagree with what he said. Preachers should never refer to women in any way that could be considered demeaning. SBC pastors must do everything we can to protect all women from being subjected to any form of abuse.

On behalf of the SBC, I ask for the forgiveness of all women who have been hurt by these comments and the issue of ill treatment of women within churches in particular. I believe we should esteem and regard women in the same way Jesus did during His earthly ministry. Women are created in the image of God and are of great value and worth. The church especially is no place for misogyny or disrespect for anyone. This year marks the 100th anniversary of women being messengers to the SBC annual meeting. It is my prayer that this year will also mark a renewed commitment to honoring women and their contributions to our churches and convention.

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Source: Baptist Press