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Southern Baptists Reject Ban on Churches with Women Pastors; Chattanooga Pastors React

"Protest with female pastors"

Southern Baptists Reject Ban on Churches with Women Pastors; Chattanooga Pastors React

By HERE News Network

In a narrow yet significant vote, the Southern Baptists rejected a formal ban on churches with women as pastors. This stands in contrast to the association’s longstanding nonbinding statement of faith which has upheld that only men are qualified for the pastorate since 2000.

The movement was heralded by many within the community as a necessary step towards aligning with traditional biblical customs. However, detractors feared that the resolution may pave the way for consequential knock-on effects.

A Divided Denomination

Notably, churches within the Southern Baptists association interpret the 2000 statement in varying ways, presenting an interesting facet to the debate. Some churches maintain that the decree does not apply to associate pastors in instances where the senior pastor is male.

The poll’s results have established a precarious juncture for women who are in or aspire to leadership positions within their churches. This scenario can be exemplified by the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, whose affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention ended five years ago following a historical shift in their perspective on women pastors.

A Step Forward

For decades, the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga has permitted women to take up leadership positions within the church. This change began in the early 80s, when women were first ordained into the ministry.

Thomas Quisenberry, from the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, shared the church’s journey and stance on the issue. “In the mid-80s, we recognized the call of women to serve as ministers. We celebrated their ordination and continue to do so,” said Quisenberry.

The Vote

The resolution required a two-thirds majority to pass, but the vote fell short. Interestingly, 60% of the delegates voted in favor of removing women from pastoral roles. This outcome left many with hurt feelings and increased scrutiny on women engaged in ministry.

Divergent Views

Ryan Fullerton, a pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church based in Louisville, Kentucky, told HALF NEWS that the measure is “not about preventing women from exercising their gifts” in the church roles such as “children’s ministers”. According to him, the Bible distinctively reserves the office of pastor for men. On the other hand, Quisenberry voiced disagreement with Fullerton, holding firm to the belief that women should be allowed to lead within the church if they so desire.

Expressing his hope for the future, Quisenberry stated, “Young women feeling a call to the ministry should know that there are congregations that recognize and celebrate their calling.”

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