David R. Currie
A Rancher's Rumblings
January 29, 2007


Mary Jim Currie, my Mother, will be 90 years old on March 27 th of this year. She still lives alone in Paint Rock, in the home that my Grandparents—Dad and Mother Currie—built in 1935. She no longer plays the piano for worship and is no longer president of the WMU, but she still attends worship services virtually every Sunday. I don’t think she still teaches Sunday School, but she still might. She no longer attends the WMU house party and misses it deeply. She still tithes. She still designates her mission offerings to CBF. She goes to the BGCT annual meeting every year with me.

She has been a pillar of the First Baptist Church in Paint Rock longer than anyone there can remember. And you know what? There are thousands of Mary Jims in Baptist churches all across Texas.

But she has never been ordained a deacon, and I think that’s a shame.

At TBC, our official position has always been that woman deacons or pastors are a decision for the local church to make and shouldn’t be a divisive issue. The roles of women in ministry or church leadership should be up to each local congregation to decide. There is no right answer—it’s up to each local church. I agree with that position officially, because it honors a bedrock Baptist principle: local church autonomy.

Now I’ll tell you what I really think. I think it is a shame that not every single church that relates to the Baptist General Convention of Texas has woman deacons. I would rejoice if at least 500 BGCT churches had woman pastors. Most of our churches would not be half the church they are without their own Mary Jims.

I think of Mother’s sister, Aunt Jewette McLaughlin (that’s right, wife of Dr. Charlie), who served faithfully in First Baptist Church, Dallas for many years without ever becoming a deacon there. My cousin, W. A. Criswell (that’s right—his Mother, Anne, and my Grandfather, W. G. “Dad” Currie, were brother and sister) could not have ever had a better deacon than Aunt Jewette would have been.


The one church that I served as pastor did not have woman deacons, but when we implemented the deacon family ministry plan, we called it the “Church Family Ministry Plan,” because, although the deacons were good men and handled the business matters of the church effectively, most were totally unqualified to be ministers, which is the true role of a deacon. So we just changed the name, and women led half of the groups.

In 2007, I continue to hear stories of churches being kicked out of associations for ordaining a woman to ministry. A woman professor was recently denied tenure at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary because she was female. I simply do not understand it.

The New Testament reflects the 1 st‑century historical context in which it was written. That does not mean that it is not true, but it does mean that we must interpret it in light of the culture in which it was written; it does mean that we must bring the Apostle Paul’s bold assertion—“in Christ there is no male or female”—to full understanding as a foundational practice in our churches.

Jesus treated women as equal to men, even first revealing Himself to women after his resurrection and telling these women—whose word meant nothing in their culture—to go and tell the disciples the good news that Christ had risen.

In San Angelo, we recently hired a woman as superintendent of schools. There are scores of woman governors, senators, and congresspersons, as well as bank presidents and others in positions of influential leadership.

So it is way, way past time that we recognize the reality that women are tremendous leaders in our churches and that they are highly qualified and—hear this—called of God to be both deacons and pastors.

Recently, I have even heard a few people say that Joy Fenner, former director of the Texas WMU, should not be elected president of the BGCT this fall, simply because she is a woman. That is very depressing to me.


They have said that some churches will not continue to support the BGCT if we elect a woman as president. I find myself wondering what kind of church it is to which these people belong and what kind of church their church would be without the presence, contribution, and leadership of the WMU through the years.

Folks, it is way past time that we recognize what the Joy Fenners, Mary Jims, and Aunt Jewettes have done for the Kingdom of God and welcome the opportunity for them to serve wherever God calls them. Jesus will be pleased with us when we do.