Rick Warren's Saddleback Church Expelled from Southern Baptist Convention After Being Deemed 'Not in Friendly Cooperation'
The Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday expelled Saddleback Church in California for having a woman serving as a pastor. The megachurch founded by former pastor Rick Warren had the second-largest congregation and had been in the eye of the storm over the role of women in the church for two years.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee formally ruled that Saddleback Church was “not in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention,” according to the Baptist Press.
The credentials committee had recommended the step “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,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message states, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
Warren stepped down last year and was replaced by Andy Wood and his wife, Stacie Wood, according to the Baptist Press. Andy Wood is the lead pastor; Stacie Wood serves as a teaching pastor.
As Andy Wood explained to the Baptist Press in October, they “are not co-pastors but rather have unique roles on staff.” He said at the time that “we believe pastoring and teaching are functions and spiritual gifts to be exercised in the church by both men and women.”
Four other churches were also expelled for similar reasons, according to the Baptist News. They were: New Faith Mission Ministry in Griffin, Georgia; St. Timothy’s Christian Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland; Calvary Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi; and Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
Executive committee chairman Jared Wellman said the churches expelled “have been valued, cooperating churches for many years, and this decision was not made lightly. However, we remain committed to upholding the theological convictions of the SBC and maintaining unity among its cooperating churches,” according to the Baptist Press.
The action provoked debate on Twitter.
The Southern Baptist’s take a HUGE STEP away from Jesus and the Bible.
The Exec Comm, moving to remove 5 churches over violations of women in leadership and ONE over lack of cooperation in sexual abuse allegations.
Unbelievable…. but also, not at all.https://t.co/aUwhDp0WZX
— Dr. Kevin M. Young (@kevinmyoung) February 21, 2023
Dear Southern Baptists, you raised me in the faith to have integrity and to care for others. How is it possible that instead of addressing Saddleback for a pastor w/ years of abuse allegations, you oust them for letting women use their God-given gifts? 🧵 https://t.co/VUXxWpmFvO
— Lori Adams-Brown 🇻🇪🇨🇷🇮🇩🇸🇬 (@loriadbr) February 22, 2023
A few thoughts.
First, I think this is the right decision, given the confessional boundaries of SBC cooperation. To have an authoritative, female “teaching pastor” seems pretty clearly to put a church outside those boundaries. https://t.co/bp1ne7Nz66
— Danny Slavich (@DannySlavich) February 21, 2023
Praise God for this faithful decision. May God bless the SBC’s faithfulness. It may be an unpopular decision, but it is Biblical and that is all that matters.
Southern Baptists Disfellowship Saddleback Church Over Female Pastor
— Jonathan Hansen (@RevHansen1689) February 22, 2023
The role of women at Saddleback has been a hot-button topic since early 2021, when three women were ordained, leading to debate at its annual meetings that year and the following year over expelling the church, according to the Baptist News.
Last year, Warren addressed the annual meeting. “We have to decide if we’re gonna treat each other as allies or adversaries. Are we gonna keep bickering over secondary issues, or are we gonna keep the main thing the main thing?” he said then.
In a post on Instagram, Warren responded to the action by writing, “Friends worldwide: I’m so touched by your love! Kay and I love you back! We will respond to #SBC in OUR time & our way thru direct channels; Our newsletters to 600,000 [church] leaders, Daily Hope radio broadcast, 1 million PDC [Purpose-Driven Church] alumni pastors list, 11 million social media followers.”
The post cited Luke 23:43, which said: “And [Jesus] said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'”
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