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Bob Smietana

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

(RNS) — Organizers of a major Southern Baptist pastors conference are standing by their choice to feature a spoken word artist and pastor named Hosanna Wong despite a growing controversy over whether Wong's presence contradicts the Southern Baptist Convention's doctrine on women pastors.

Wong, who is scheduled to perform a spoken word selection at the June meeting of the SBC Pastors' Conference in Orlando, Florida, serves as a teaching pastor for a San Diego church. She is the only woman included in a list, released Monday (Feb. 10.), of speakers and guests set to appear at the conference. 

Her presence on the list was met with protests on social media. 

Critics have demanded that Wong be disinvited from the event, citing the Baptist Faith and Message, the denomination's doctrinal statement, which states that "the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."

"The powers that be are ticked off — and they believe there is an agreement for her to drop out," said the Rev. Wade Burleson, a prominent pastor from Oklahoma who supports Wong's appearance and believes she will remain on the program. "Let's see what happens."

At least two other speakers at the conference come from churches that allow women to serve as pastors on their staff, according to critics. 

In a press release Friday (Feb. 14), Rev. David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, admitted that he disagrees with the theology and methods of some of the speakers and guests scheduled to appear at the annual Southern Baptist Pastor's Conference, which draws thousands of pastors and meets prior to the SBC's annual meeting.

But he appealed to his fellow Baptists to give the speakers a chance.

"The irony of this is that my direction with the conference has created more division and hostility than I ever could have imagined," wrote Uth, who is president of the pastor's conference. "Could I appeal to you to be open and give God a chance to speak through every person who is a part of this program?"

Last week, Uth told Baptist Press that Wong has spoken at several Baptist churches in the past and that she was not preaching at the event.
"She's not preaching. She's not coming as a preacher," Uth said. "She's coming as a musical artist."
In Friday's press release, Uth said that Wong would perform a spoken word selection and described spoken word as an art form of "sharing contemporary poetry in front of a live audience oftentimes performed with a musical background."

Uth left the door open for changes in the program.

"I have no desire to bring anyone into an environment that is not welcoming to them," he wrote. "I am communicating with our invited program guests and together we are determining the best plan going forward for each."

On Thursday (Feb. 13), Burleson, a Baptist pastor and blogger from Oklahoma, claimed on social media that Wong had been disinvited. Now, Burleson told RNS, he might have been wrong. The pastor told RNS that he has not received any official word about Wong's status.

But he now predicts that she will be on the stage at the conference.

"Kudos to David Uth for sticking by his convictions," Burleson said, adding that Southern Baptists who support women leaders in the church to show up at the pastor's conference.

"Show up and be inspired," he said. 

The controversy over Wong and other speakers is part of a larger dispute among Southern Baptists over whether women can preach in services and whether the role of senior pastor is only reserved for men. Evangelical pastor John MacArthur made headlines last year when he accused the SBC of "caving" on the issue of allowing women to preach and said that popular Bible teacher Beth Moore should "go home."

Author Emerson Eggerich, who is also scheduled to speak at the conference, has been the subject of controversy of his own in recent months. Critics claim his best-selling book, "Love & Respect," can be harmful to women in abusive relationships.

This week, a group of Southern Baptists who say they are worried about the SBC's "apparent emphasis on social justice, Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and the redefining of biblical gender roles" — issues that have roiled the SBC in recent months —  launched the Conservative Baptist Network of Southern Baptists.

READ THIS STORY AT RELIGIONNEWS.COM

Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: ©RNS/Hosanna Wong Screenshot

Some Southern Baptist church leaders and pastors are threatening to boycott the Southern Baptist Convention's Pastors' Conference because of a planned performance from a female spoken word artist.

According to The Christian Post, some of the church pastors say Hosanna Wong should not be in the lineup of featured guests at the conference because she is a female teaching pastor.

“The last thing I want to do is sow discord in the body of Christ. And I do not believe I'm doing so. I must, however, question @PastorDavidUth on @SBCPastorsConf including @waynecordeiro & Hosanna Wong. This does not represent the majority of the SBC. We will fight for right,” Sam Bunnell, pastor of worship and discipleship at South Reno Baptist in Nevada, said on Twitter.

Dwight McKissic, senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, however, noted in a statement that Wong is not a lead pastor.

“If Phoebe could be entrusted to deliver the Roman epistle to the church at Rome, & the church be told to ‘receive her in the Lord...and assist her,’ ... then the pastors conference can receive Hosanna Wong. Churches are autonomous.”

The conference’s site lists 10 men as “Confirmed Speakers.” Wong and worship artist Phil Wickham are listed as “Special Guests.”

According to The Christian Post, “she is expected to appear at the conference in her capacity as a spoken word artist.”

Wong is a teaching pastor at EastLake Church in San Diego. She is also an author and is the Executive Director of Calvary Street Ministries, a ministry for the homeless and low-income families in San Francisco. She travels the country speaking and performing at churches of different denominations.

“She’s not preaching. She’s not coming as a preacher,” conference president David Uth confirmed to Baptist Press. “She’s coming as a musical artist.”

Micahel Frost, the founder of Tinsley Institute at Morling College, has asked for prayer for Wong.

“She was invited to speak at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference in June, but a number of SBC pastors have written a joint letter of protest, demanding that Wong repent, calling on every SBC pastor to phone the SBC immediately, and threatening to withhold all Executive Committee funds until she is disinvited. If not, they are planning to mobilize a boycott of the event. Pray for her.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/DGLimages


Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

Indiana’s attorney general held a service for the remains of more than 2,400 unborn babies found in a late abortionist’s home and car last year.

According to the Daily Caller, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill held a funeral service on Wednesday where he laid to rest the 2,411 unborn babies whose fetal remains were kept hidden by abortionist Ulrich Klopfer.

“We lay to rest the remains of 2,411 unborn children. In doing so, we fulfill our obligation as a state pursuant to law and conscience to the unborn babies whose lives were terminated through abortions performed in clinics in Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend,” Hill said in his statement at the service.

“Although these abortions took place from 2000 to 2003, until today, the remains had yet to receive an appropriate resting place,” He added.

“The shocking discovery of 2,411 medically preserved fetal remains in Illinois, left in a garage and in the trunk of a car was horrifying to anyone with normal sensibilities.

“Regrettably, there is no shortage of depravity in our world today, including due regard for the most vulnerable among us, and so, we brought them home, back to Indiana.”

“These babies deserved better than a cold, dark garage or the trunk of a car,” Hill added, according to CNN.

Also at the ceremony, Hill noted that it appears several of the remains may belong to babies who were aborted illegally. He said, “There were some indications that some of the remains would have been outside the appropriate standard … late-term or beyond the first trimester.” This possibility, Hill noted, is still under investigation.

As Christian Headlines reported in September, following his death, Klopfer’s family discovered 2,246 medically preserved remains in his house in Will County, Illinois while sorting through his belongings. Later, police searched the 75-year-old’s car and found additional remains.

Klopfer conducted abortions for 43 years until his license was suspended in 2015, CNN reports. During his four decades-long career, Klopfer ran a women’s health facility in South Bend, Indiana, and operated two other abortion clinics across Indiana, the South Bend Tribune reports.

Related:

2,246 Remains of Unborn Babies Found on Abortion Doctor’s Property

More Fetal Remains Discovered in Abortion Doctor Ulrich Klopfer’s Car

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Marc Bruxelle


Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog kaylamariekoslosky.blogspot.com since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.

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