Southern Baptists Oust Saddleback Megachurch, 4 Others for Appointing Female Pastors

Southern Baptists Oust Saddleback Megachurch, 4 Others for Appointing Female Pastors
Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., on March 20, 2014. (Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Word Entertainment)
Micaela Ricaforte

The Southern Baptist Convention—a Protestant Christian denomination with over 47,000 churches nationwide—voted Feb. 21 to remove Saddleback Church from its group for recently appointing a woman as a pastor.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee ousted Saddleback’s membership—along with four other churches—“on the basis that the church has a faith and practice that does not closely identify with the convention’s adopted statement of faith, as demonstrated by the church having a female teaching pastor functioning in the office of pastor.”

Saddleback Church is a congregation in Lake Forest, California, with more than 30,000 weekly attendees.

When Pastor Andie Wood replaced Saddleback’s founding Pastor Rick Warren last summer, Wood’s wife, Stacie, was also appointed as a church pastor.

In a statement emailed to The Epoch Times, Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee Chairman Jared Wellman said the decision was not an easy one.

“These churches have been valued, cooperating churches for many years, and this decision was not made lightly,” Wellman said. “However, we remain committed to upholding the theological convictions of the [convention] and maintaining unity among its cooperating churches.”

Wellman referred to the Southern Baptist Convention’s guidelines, which stated in Article VI that “while both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

The guidelines further cite the Scriptures 1 Timothy 2:12, in which the Apostle Paul states, “I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.”

In addition to Saddleback Church, the committee removed four other churches for appointing female pastors: New Faith Mission Ministry in Georgia, St. Timothy’s Christian Church in Maryland, Calvary Baptist Church in Mississippi, and Fern Creek Baptist Church in Kentucky.

It also voted to remove Freedom Church in Florida, which allegedly failed to investigate sexual assault claims.

Any of these churches may appeal its removal at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in June, a spokesperson for the convention told The Epoch Times.

At the convention’s annual meeting last June, as the Executive Committee considered removing Saddleback over appointing women pastors, Warren virtually spoke at the meeting and called on Baptists to set aside their differences and work together to spread the gospel message.

However, Warren said on Twitter Feb. 21 he and his wife, Kay, would respond to the Southern Baptist Convention “in our time and way through direct channels” including their social media, newsletter, and radio show.

Pastor Andie Wood was not immediately available for comment.

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