EastLake Church teaching pastor and spoken word artist Hosanna Wong is scheduled to perform at the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference, and some SBC pastor have a problem with this.
Over on the Beloved SBC Conference’s website, the ten people on the “Confirmed Speakers” list are all men, but Wong and worship artist Phil Wickham are listed in the “Special Guests” area. According to Christian Post, “she is expected to appear at the conference in her capacity as a spoken word artist.”
In addition to being a spoken word artist, Wong is an accomplished author and is the Executive Director of Calvary Street Ministries, an outreach bringing hope to the homeless and low-income families in San Francisco. She also travels the country speaking and performing at prominent churches of many different denominations.
(BTW, she’s really good! Here’s a video of her performing at Saddleback back in 2015):
“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.”
The Post reports that several SBC pastors have expressed their disapproval of Wong’s appearance at the conference, like this one Twitter:
Michael Frost, the Founder of Tinsley Institute at Morling College (an Australian Christian College), asked his followers to pray for Wong, noting that some pastors are organizing against the Wong and the conference. He posted an image of Wong speaking, saying, “This is Hosanna Wong, the teaching pastor at EastLake Church in San Diego. 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.”
However, some of his followers disagreed about Wong’s appearance at the event in the comments.
Uth told BP, “We knew there would be some who objected. But then, we look back in our past and there have been others that have spoken, both at the Southern Baptist Convention and at pastors’ conferences that have not been a Southern Baptist.”
He also said his team is monitoring social media, adding, “If we sense that it is going to be an environment that’s not going to be helpful to her or it’s going to be in some way hurtful, I would not risk that for anything. She is a precious lady. She and her husband do a great work in San Francisco.”
The SBC has recently come under scrutiny for how it treats women leaders and Bible teachers.
John MacArthur, a major name in the SBC, told attendees of “Truth Matters Conference” that Beth Moore should “Go home,” adding “the church is caving in to women preachers.” As we previously noted, he went on to compare her to a TV jewelry salesperson and then went on to criticize the #MeToo movement.
It’s not the first time she’s come under attack from SBC leaders.
When author and theologian Owen Strachan tweeted (in part), “Women do not preach on Sunday to the church. Doing so is functional egalitarianism. We will not capitulate here.” Moore responded, tweeting, “Owen, I am going to say this with as much respect & as much self-restraint as I can possibly muster. I would be terrified to be a woman you’d approve of. And I would have wasted 40 years of my life encouraging women to come to know and love Jesus through the study of Scripture.”
In an extended Twitter thread, she wrote in part, “I am compelled to my bones by the Holy Spirit—I don’t want to be but I am—to draw attention to the sexism & misogyny that is rampant in segments of the SBC, cloaked by piety & bearing the stench of hypocrisy. There are countless godly conservative complementarians. So many. There are countless conservative Complementarians I very much respect and deeply love even though I may not fully understand their interpretations of certain Scriptures as the end of the matter. I love the Scriptures. I love Jesus. I do not ignore 1 Tim. or 1 Cor. What I plead for is to grapple with the entire text from [Matthew] 1 thru Rev. 22 on every matter concerning women. To grapple with Paul’s words in 1 Tim/1 Cor. 14 as being authoritative, God-breathed!—alongside other words Paul wrote, equally inspired and make sense of the many women he served alongside. Above all else, we must search the attitudes & practices of Christ Jesus himself toward women. HE is our Lord. He had women followers! Evangelists! The point of all sanctification & obedience is toward being conformed to HIS image. I do not see one glimpse of Christ in this sexism.”
Moore and anti-sexual abuse advocate Rachael Denhollander have taken to Twitter to support Wong.
“Note what is taking place here: 1. A woman is coming to the SBC pastor’s conference to perform a piece during worship. Her role in her own church is as pastor, in conflict with the SBC BFM. What are leaders doing given this? The potential responses on the table include: Withholding ALL Executive Committee funds until she is disinvited. A joint letter from SBC pastors in protest of her role. A call for ‘every’ SBC pastor to be on the phone with SBC leaders immediately. A boycott. Robust public denouncement. A call for her to publicly repent. Laments that people ‘like that’ will care about image and will never repent.”
She then pointed out the SBC record with allowing leaders to sexual abuse women and then cover it up.
“But now I have a question: Where were the calls for public repentance when Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines repeatedly put sexual abuser Daryl Gilyard into the pulpit?” she wrote. “Where was the outcry when they slandered the women who’d reported him? Why haven’t funds been witheld from the Baptist Press, which defamed Jen Lyell and Debbie Vasquez, letting violent rapists go free and ruining these women? Where are the calls for “every ” pastor to be on the phone everytime Christa Brown identified yet another predator still in the pulpit? Where was the public outcry when abuser Wes Feltner was going to be called to an SBC church just a few months ago? Where are the joint letters when Paige Patterson took the pulpit again after being forced to resign due to repeatedly covering up sexual assault? Where was the support for Susan Codone when an SBC pastor reported her warning against Patterson, to Twitter, shutting her down? Where is the outcry against Steve Bradlee for covering up the abuse of Jules Woodson? Because sexual abuse isn’t seen as that big of a deal. Nor is covering it up.”
Moore added, “Exactly, I want nothing more to do with it. But I am going to have a dang hard time staying silent if they look like they are going to put Hosanna through anything similar to what others of us have endured over these people. She’s not preaching at it, for crying out loud.”