On June 10th, at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Birmingham, over 100 people gathered at the Westin Hotel to hear a debate between Dwight McKissic, Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX and Florida’s very own Tom Ascol, Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral.
Ascol has served as the Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church for over 30 years and is the Executive Director of Founders Ministries, an organization “committed to encouraging the recovery of the Gospel and the reformation of local churches.”
McKissic and Ascol’s discussion centered around answering the question, “Should women preach on our Lord’s Day worship services?” Both McKissic and Ascol were allotted a 15 minute opening statement, time to ask each other questions regarding their stance, and a final closing argument.
“You don’t have to convince me that women play a vital role in the kingdom of God…we are not debating the value of women,” Ascol said. “The question ‘should women be allowed to preach’ has nothing to do with their giftedness and value, it’s whether God allows this in His Word.”
Ascol called on McKissic and the room full of attendees to “simply reject any attempt to exercise gifts outside of what is prescribed by the Word of God.” Ascol added that “the Word is not unclear on this topic, it’s just unpopular.”
Directing his question to McKissic and other pastors in the room, Ascol asked, “does God care for the structure and ecclesiology of His churches?” Ascol challenged pastors to “not let experiences and culture become more important than the Word of God.” He added, “experiences should not be the final authority on how we should live or function as a church.”
The debate ended with McKissic and Ascol shaking hands and agreeing to disagree on this topic and several others.
Along with Ascol, other Florida Baptists took center stage this year including Tommy Green, Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention; Ken Whitten, Senior Pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz; Willy Rice, Senior Pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater; and David Uth, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Orlando, who was elected President of the 2020 Pastors’ Conference at the SBC, for next June.
It was evident at this year’s SBC, that God is working in the life and ministries of Florida Baptist churches big and small. Be sure to save the date for June 9-10 as the state of Florida has the privilege of hosting the 2020 SBC at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.