The EBF Council Meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, last week was informed that the EBF Executive had taken the decision ‘with reluctance’ to suspend the membership of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia (EBCG), for a period of one year. This follows directly from the Report of a recent EBF delegation to Georgia in the light of the escalation of a long-running conflict within the EBCG. Despite their best efforts to do so, it was not possible for the EBF delegation to meet the leaders of all parties in the conflict.
This is the full EBF Executive Statement to the Council in September 2019:
In view of the recent escalation of the conflict among the Baptist churches belonging to the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia (EBCG), the denial of the involvement of the member churches in recent decisions affecting the leadership of the EBCG, and the uncertainty regarding the continuing legal status of the majority of the churches, the EBF Executive has, with reluctance, taken the decision to suspend the membership of the EBCG with immediate effect.
The purpose of this period of suspension of the membership of the EBCG is
to find opportunities for EBF representatives to meet the leaders of all the Baptist groups in Georgia;
to allow time to consider and clarify the present and future relationship to the EBF of all the Baptist churches of Georgia;
for the EBF to actively encourage a peaceful reconciliation among the Baptists of Georgia.
This decision, reported to the EBF Council meeting in Glasgow, Scotland 25-28 September 2019, will be reviewed by the Executive by September 2020 when a further report will be given to the 2020 EBF Council.
We call on our EBF member Unions to pray for all the Baptists of Georgia, that a peaceful resolution will be found that can enable the continuing effective witness to the Gospel of all the Baptist churches in the country.
EBF General Secretary Tony Peck commented: “This very unusual action by the EBF Executive is as a result of the very sad situation that has developed over many years now, in which a once united Baptist Union in Georgia is now split in to three parts. The period of suspension of membership is in order to clarify the ongoing relationships of the churches to the EBF, and to ensure that our Baptist principles regarding the accountability of leadership to the will of the churches are fully upheld. I ask for the prayers of the regional and global Baptist family that a peaceful resolution might be found that will enable the continuing witness in reconciliation and unity of our Baptist churches in Georgia.”