Southern Baptists expel Virginia church for claiming girls might be pastors | EUROtoday

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Southern Baptists have voted to expel a historic Virginia congregation from its ranks after it affirmed that girls can serve in any pastoral position, together with as senior pastor.

Delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention annual assembly voted 6,759 to 563 on Tuesday to oust First Baptist Church of Alexandria after the denomination’s credentials committee deemed the church to be not in “friendly cooperation” on the grounds that it conflicts with the Baptist Faith and Message.

That assertion of Southern Baptist doctrine declares that solely males are certified for the position of pastor.

“We find no joy in making this recommendation, but have formed the opinion that the church’s egalitarian beliefs regarding the office of pastor do not closely identify with the convention’s adopted statement of faith,” mentioned Jonathan Sams, chair of the credentials committee.

Two congregations, together with a California megachurch, had been expelled final yr from the conference for a similar motive.

The Alexandria church, which has been concerned within the nation’s largest Protestant denomination since its nineteenth century founding and has contributed tens of millions towards denominational causes, is at present led by a person, Robert Stephens, however the church has made clear it believes girls can function senior pastors, too.

Stephens mentioned his church has had girls in ministry for greater than 44 years and desires to proceed cooperating with Southern Baptists who disagreed on this challenge.

“First Alexandria stands before you today as a testament that we can maintain a fruitful partnership with churches that take a different stance on women in ministry,” he mentioned. “We at First Baptist are advancing the gospel, and we hope that we will continue to work alongside you all.”

He continued: “This is a sad moment for us, but we also recognize that God has a future for First Baptist Church.”

“We have good news to share with the world, and we will keep doing that,” added Kim Eskridge, the pastor for kids and girls.

Following the vote, Southern Baptist held a vote to enshrine a ban on church buildings with any girls pastors within the group’s structure. On Wednesday, delegates voted to reject the ban.

Early Tuesday, a small group of ladies stood exterior the Indiana Convention Center in a low-key demonstration in assist of ladies in ministry.

“I hope that people know women have equal value and can be pastors,” mentioned the Rev Meredith Stone, govt director of Baptist Women in Ministry.

Among the ladies was Christa Brown, who has lengthy advocated for fellow survivors of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist church buildings and criticized the denomination’s resistance to reforms, an effort she has chronicled in a brand new memoir, Baptistland.

She mentioned that there’s a direct connection between problems with abuse and the equality of ladies in ministry. “When you squash some people, it sets up a lot more people to be squashed,” she mentioned.

The SBC not too long ago settled a excessive profile lawsuits that accused a former chief of sexual assault,

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a group of loosely affiliated member church buildings, boasting just below 15 million members, and is dominated by white members, who’re normally deeply socially conservative. The conference has typically been a strong instrument for rightwing organizing lately, particularly on points round abortion.