By MichaelMH Published Feb 21, 2023
The Southern Baptist Convention's decision to kick out its second-largest congregation, the California-based Saddleback Church, due to its inclusion of women pastors has sparked a heated debate within the church community .
Saddleback Church, founded by celebrity pastor Rick Warren and known for its media coverage on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), has long been a proponent of gender equality in pastoral leadership. In 2021, Warren ordained three women pastors, a move that the Southern Baptist Convention vehemently opposed .
Despite the church's popularity and presence in the lives of millions through TBN, the Southern Baptist Convention remained steadfast in its position. The convention's Executive Committee voted to approve the ousting, citing that Saddleback's "faith and practice" did not align with the convention's statement of faith, in large part due to the presence of a female teaching pastor functioning in the office of pastor .
The move has drawn criticism from within the church community, including from Saddleback's lead pastor, Andy Wood. Wood's wife, a well-known figure in the church community and a gifted pastor, was one of the women pastors ordained by Warren. Wood has defended his wife and her right to exercise her spiritual gifts, stating, "The church should be a place where both men and women can exercise those spiritual gifts" .
The debate over the role of women in pastoral leadership is not a new one in the Southern Baptist Convention. Women have been fighting for decades to be ordained and have their voices heard within the church. While progress has been made, the convention's stance on women pastors remains a contentious issue .
In addition to Saddleback Church, the Southern Baptist Convention also kicked out five other churches, four of which had women pastors and one for sexual abuse. The move highlights the convention's continued efforts to maintain a strict adherence to its statement of faith, even in the face of opposition from within the church community .
As the debate over the role of women in pastoral leadership continues, it remains to be seen how the Southern Baptist Convention will respond to the growing calls for gender equality within its ranks.
In a Nut-Shell
The Southern Baptist Convention's decision to expel Saddleback Church, the second-largest congregation in the church, has stirred controversy. The convention's Executive Committee approved the move, citing that the church's "faith and practice" did not align with the convention's statement faith due to the presence of a female teaching pastor. Saddleback Church's ordaining of three women pastors sparked the move, which has caused division within the church community.