As you would have heard at our last business meeting in November, we are looking to make some changes to our bylaws this year. Peter Grierson, one of our elders, is serving as the chairperson of a sub-committee of the elders that is working on bringing proposed changes to the membership. You will receive details of the proposed changes in the next few weeks. All members of SDBC will have ample opportunity to ask questions and engage with the materials that are presented by our Board of Elders. Please note the following dates for two discussion forums that will be hosted by our elders in order to engage with the membership on proposed bylaw changes:
Wednesday, February 12th @ 7PM
Tuesday, March 10th @ 7PM
As a part of the overall bylaw changes, we are also proposing a change to our membership requirements. Our current practice is to grant membership to people who have been baptized by immersion. When Christians come to our church from different denominations or different cultures and seek to become members, we ask them if they were baptized by immersion. If the person had been baptized as an adult upon a genuine confession of faith in Jesus but baptized by pouring or sprinkling, we would ask the person to be baptized again. We have had numerous cases of people being asked to be baptized via immersion before they can become members at SDBC. However, we see some challenges in continuing to implement this practice of asking people who have experienced genuine conversion—and a baptism experience that they deem as being tied to their conversion experience—to be baptized again so that they can become members at a local church.
The elders and pastors have studied and thought through the many complex theological and practical implications of church membership and baptism. Having studied and prayed over this issue, we maintain that baptism by immersion is the most biblical mode of baptism, and we are committed to continuing to practice immersion as the only mode of baptism at our church. Membership requirements of a local church, however, are not prescribed in the bible, so we believe there is flexibility that we can have in how we administer membership. Our goal is to continue our strong commitment to practicing immersion as taught in the bible, while allowing other Christian brothers and sisters to become members without the need of re-baptism. There are several theological reasons why we view re-baptism as being a negative practice in a local church. To hear more about our interpretation of Scripture around this issue, and to learn why this is so important for our church to consider, please attend the following discussion forums to engage with the elders and pastors:
January 26th (after Sunday service)
February 23rd (after Sunday service)
These sessions will also include outside speakers such as Pastor Brent Chapman (Lead Pastor @ Southridge Fellowship Church and Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Fellowship Pacific) and Dr. Larry Perkins (Bible Scholar and Professor @ Northwest Baptist Seminary and former President of NBS). We invite you to attend these two sessions and engage with us on this important issue.