In a decisive move that underscores its commitment to the Biblical model of church leadership, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, has affirmed the removal of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, and Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. The reason for this decision is their appointment of women to pastoral roles, a practice that the SBC believes is inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible.
The SBC’s decision, made during its annual meeting, is rooted in its interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12-14, which states that a woman should not teach or have authority over a man. This interpretation is reflected in the SBC’s “statement of faith,” which asserts that “the office of pastor is limited to men.” The convention also took a further step to reinforce this Biblical principle by voting to approve an amendment to its constitution that would more broadly prohibit churches from having women hold any pastoral title.
Saddleback Church, founded by well-known pastor and author Rick Warren, had appointed Stacie Wood, wife of Warren’s successor Andy Wood, as a “teaching pastor.” Fern Creek Baptist Church has had a female pastor, Linda Barnes Popham, since 1993 (it also appears Popham is pro-LGBTQ). Despite appeals from both churches to remain within the denomination, the SBC’s decision was upheld by a strong majority of the delegates, known as messengers.
The SBC’s decision is a testament to its commitment to uphold what it believes to be the Biblical model of church leadership. While this decision may be met with varying reactions, the SBC maintains that it is acting in accordance with its understanding of Scripture. The convention believes that this commitment to Biblical principles will guide the denomination as it navigates the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.