The move to disfellowship churches with female pastors in top positions has spurred a larger debate.
Nobody expected Rick Warren’s appeal to be successful—not even Rick Warren. But he still stood up in front of 13,000 Southern Baptists gathered in New Orleans to make his case.
“No one is asking any Southern Baptist to change their theology! I’m not asking you to agree with my church,” he insisted, reading from a printout at a microphone on the floor of the convention hall during a three-minute speech. “I am asking you to act like a Southern Baptist, who have historically agreed to disagree on dozens of doctrines, in order to act on a common mission.”
For messengers at the SBC annual meeting, employing women pastors was not an agree-to-disagree issue. A vast majority—88 percent—voted to uphold the decision made back in February to disfellowship Saddleback.
The vote concludes two years of scrutiny and criticism toward the California megachurch for ordaining female pastors from its stage, welcoming a female teaching pastor to preach on Sundays, and naming a female campus pastor. This was the only chance to appeal.
After the vote, Warren said he wasn’t counting the appeal to succeed. Instead, “I wanted to push the conversation that’s been stagnant for years.”
Warren, who founded Saddleback and led the church for 43 years until his retirement last September, did not leave quietly. In the weeks before the meeting, the fourth-generation pastor launched a campaign in his church’s defense, with dozens of tweets, a website, three videos, an open letter, and a four-page messenger’s guide arguing that removing Saddleback violates the fellowship’s belief in church autonomy.
“I wanted to speak up for millions of Southern Baptist women … …
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