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SBC finalizes vote to expel female-led churches

Peter Smith and Deepa Bharath of NBC Philadelphia write that a final decision by the Southern Baptist Convention has rejected an appeal from California’s Saddleback megachurch and Kentucky’s smaller Fern Creek Baptist church over expulsion from the SBC organization. Both churches refused to adhere to an earlier vote barring women from senior leadership positions.

Three other churches chose not to appeal a similar expulsion decision. Despite an official SBC statement of faith saying the office of pastor is limited to qualified men, the recent decision is likely the first time any church has been expelled over the issue.

Smith and Bharath continue:

The Southern Baptist Convention has refused to welcome Saddleback Church back into its fold, rejecting an appeal by the California megachurch over its February ouster for having women pastors.

With the 9,437-1,212 vote, delegates rejected an appeal by Rick Warren, the retired founding pastor of Saddleback and author of the best-selling phenomenon, “The Purpose Driven Life.” Warren had urged Baptists to agree to disagree “in order to share a common mission.”

The results of the Tuesday votes were announced Wednesday morning on the concluding day of the the two-day annual meeting here of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, whose statement of faith asserts that only qualified men can serve as pastors.

The convention hall packed with about 12,000 Southern Baptists was quiet after the announcement, appearing to have listened to the earlier urging by SBC President Bart Barber for them to show restraint.

“There are people who want to take the SBC back to the 1950s when white men ruled supreme and when the woman’s place was in the home. There are others who want to take it back 500 years to the time of the Reformation,” he said. “I say we need to take the church back to the first century. The church at its birth was the church at its best.”

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