Southern Baptists may vote to ban churches with women as pastors
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Southern Baptists may vote to ban churches with women as pastors

(NewsNation) – America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, may decide this week to ban gatherings with female pastors during its two-day convention in Indianapolis.

Last year, the SBC Executive Committee took preliminary steps to warn churches that allow women pastors that they could face removal before this year’s official vote. The action received huge support.

The most famous event was the convention’s expulsion of the Saddleback Church in California, founded by famed preacher Rick Warren, author of the bestseller “The Purpose Driven Life.” At the denomination’s 2023 convention, Warren appealed for the restoration of his church, saying, “I’m not asking you to agree with our church; I am asking you to act like Southern Baptists.”

Warren was referring to the fact that historically, the 47,000 Southern Baptist congregations have been able to independently determine how they should conduct services or otherwise serve their more than 13 million members. However, the SBC may determine which churches may be affiliated with the convention.

Within weeks of the SBC’s decision to expel Saddleback, another large and influential congregation, Elevation Church in South Carolina, sent a letter withdrawing its affiliation with the SBC without giving a reason, although it made clear that the church would continue the teachings of the Southern Baptists.

Elevation Church, led by Pastor Stephen Furtick, hosts events where women, including Furtick’s wife, Holly, regularly preach. According to the latest SBC data, weekly attendance at Elevation meetings has exceeded 26,000 worshipers per week. Their worship band has also received one Grammy Award, two Billboard Music Awards and seven Dove Awards, including 2023 Worship Album of the Year.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s convention will address the question of whether Bible verses about the roles of men and women should be taken as a literal, universal code of conduct or considered in the context of the era in which they were written.

In 2000, Southern Baptists amended the Baptist Faith and Message, the doctrine of the church, to state that “although both men and women are capable of serving in the church, the office of pastor/elder/overseer is limited to men qualified by the Scriptures “

The verses referred to in this article are found in “1 Timothy,” which contains the following passage attributed to the Apostle Paul:

“A woman should learn in silence and complete submission. I do not allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man; must remain silent. (1 Tim. 2:11-12)

However, biblical scholars disagree on the biblical teachings regarding the role of women in the church. Supporters of women’s involvement in the pulpit point to another passage attributed to Paul as a counterpoint:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Historian and evangelical author Rick Renner, founder of Oklahoma-based Renner Ministries, says deeper research into women remaining silent in churches has shown that the texts do not portray women silencing or shying away from them.

Instead, she argues that until the New Testament writings, women were not allowed to participate in public religious gatherings, and for the first time after years of sexism, they were taught how to behave in public places.

“It wasn’t a lack of words. The idea was for women to learn not to usurp power through manipulation or domination as they serve under the leadership of a pastor, Renner said. Paul “was not against women speaking and teaching. He was against misusing their position. And he would say the same to men.

In his Letter to the Romans, Renner drew attention to influential women, including those who served in pastoral and diaconal roles in the early Church, indicating that the early Church supported women in leadership roles.

“The verses that people misinterpreted that said women were to be silent in church actually meant that women had great freedom,” he said.

Proponents of the ban say the Executive Committee must be “unapologetically biblical,” a meaning not yet agreed upon by Southern Baptist Convention congregations, among others.