The Baptist Ministers Conference of Washington D.C. and Vicinity has expelled one of its most prominent members, the Rev. J. Terry Wingate of Purity Baptist Church, for taking part in the ordination of a woman last June.
Another prominent member who took part in the rite, the Rev. Jerry A. Moore Jr., pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church and a member of the D.C. City Council, avoided a similar action by apologizing to the conference.
The Rev. Carleton W. Veazey, whose Zion Baptist Church sponsored the baptism of the Rev. Jocelyn D. Garland, a lifetime member of the congregation and now on the church's staff, also was not disciplined because, according to Moore, Veazey is not currently an active member of the conference.
Veazey, Wingate and the conference president, the Rev. Carey Pointer, were all said to be on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.
The conference, made up almost entirely of black Baptist clergy, has no official status within Baptist denominations, where decisions about who may or may not be ordained to the ministry rest solely with each local congregation. Nevertheless, in this area, it has been a formidable barrier to black Baptist women seeking ordination because of its threat to expel any pastor who participates in ordaining a woman.
The service at Zion Baptist in June, in which two men--one of them Mrs. Garland's husband--were also ordained, was only the second ordination of a black Baptist woman here. At the time, Veazey said he had "considered" the conference's threat of ostracism, but added, "My position is that I try to cooperate with the brethren, but there are certain things each minister must take a stand on."
Moore, who according to Veazey had expressed misgivings about participating in the rite last June because "some of the brethren are very concerned about it," said this week that the conference ruled the ordination at Zion Baptist was a "clandestine ordination" because not all members were invited.
"There is a provision in the constitution of the Minister's Conference that any member of the conference participating in a clandestine ordination should be expelled unless he apologizes. I apologized for breaking a rule of the constitution . . . I am not apologizing for attending the ordination."
Moore said he will support amending the conference's constitution to eliminate the "clandestine ordination" prohibition, but that he wanted to retain membership in the group.
"The conference is not an authoritative body," he said. "It's just a fellowship, just like a club."