It has been a busy week for the Southern Baptist Convention as messengers voted to reelect Bart Barber as president and, in a move that drew far more attention as well as some scorn, deny membership to any church with female pastors.
The latter vote occurred Wednesday in New Orleans. The measure passed with overwhelming support from messengers (the Southern Baptist name for voting delegates). The rule is not yet, technically, in effect as a second vote will be required at the 2024 convention.
Assuming the second vote is successful, that would mean about 2,000 SBC-affiliated churches could be removed.
“It puts us all on the same page about what a pastor is, and who a pastor is: a biblically qualified man,” CBS News quoted Mike Law, a pastor at Arlington Baptist Church in Texas, as saying.
In a related matter, SBC messengers voted against reinstating Saddleback Church, the mega-church overseen by Rick Warren, whose “The Purpose Driven Life” book was ubiquitous in Baptist circles in the early 2000s. The SBC Executive Committee expelled Saddleback in February because of the church’s appointing a woman as associate pastor.
Warren had appealed the disfellowship of his church, saying a disagreement on one word in the Baptist Faith and Message shouldn’t be disqualifying.
Saddleback was one of five churches to have been expelled from the SBC over the appointment of women as pastors.