Southern Baptists say no to women pastors, uphold expulsion of Saddleback megachurch - NPR

The Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to uphold earlier decisions to expel two churches because they have women pastors.

The decision came during the group’s annual meeting in New Orleans. The SBC heard appeals by California megachurch Saddleback and a smaller church, Fern Creek Baptist in Louisville, Ky.

Saddleback Church ordained a woman as a campus pastor, and the Kentucky congregation has had a woman pastor, Rev. Linda Popham, for more than three decades.

The SBC’s 2000 statement of faith, called Baptist Faith and Message, asserts that only qualified men can serve as pastors, and the nearly 13,000 voters, who are called “messengers,” voted to uphold the churches’ removals.

During the floor debate in New Orleans, Popham argued that women should be allowed to serve as pastors and that she had been faithfully serving in churches since she was a teenager.

She said that her congregation adhered to an earlier version of the Baptist Faith and Message, adopted in 1963. That version of the theological document does not exclude women from holding the office of pastor.

Popham also said it’s not a problem for congregations to disagree with one another on the specifics of who’s eligible for ministry and that she would never suggest any congregation had to have a woman as its pastor.

Defending the churches’ expulsions was prominent SBC theologian and seminary president Albert Mohler.

He argued that the Bible restricts the role of pastor to men only.

As Mohler spoke, voters interrupted him multiple times with applause in support of his position.

After upholding the expulsions, messengers in New Orleans voted by a two-thirds majority to amend their constitution to state that the Southern Baptist Convention “Affirms, appoints, or employs only men as any kind of pastor or elder.”

In order to go into effect, the amendment will need to be voted on a second time and pass by a two-thirds majority at the Southern Baptist meeting next year.

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Events: Southern Baptist Convention 2023 Annual Meeting 

Locations: Saddleback, CA Louisville, KY New Orleans, LA California Kentucky 

Organizations: Southern Baptist Convention Saddleback Church Fern Creek Baptist 

People: Linda Popham Albert Mohler 

Tags: Christianity Religion Discrimination Baptist Faith and Message Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting 

Type: Headlines