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California megachurch ousted from Southern Baptist Convention for having woman pastor

Image source: Saddleback Church YouTube channel screenshot

The Southern Baptist Convention expelled California-based Saddleback Church, one of America's largest, because the megachurch installed a woman in the office of pastor, Baptist Press reported Tuesday.

"Women pastors are contrary to the SBC’s statement of faith," Baptist Press also said. Baptist Press is the SBC's official news service.

Saddleback was one of five congregations the SBC expelled since the ban on women pastors was instituted in 2000, Religion News Service reported.

The SBC "deemed [Saddleback Church] not to be in friendly cooperation" on Tuesday because Stacie Wood, wife of Saddleback Church lead pastor Andy Wood, is a regular preacher, the outlet also said.

"'While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture," according to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Article VI.

Saddleback's removal from the SBC was postponed for about a year after it ordained three women as pastors prior to the SBC's Annual Meeting in 2022. Those women included Liz Puffer, Cynthia Petty, and Katie Edwards.

Saddleback commissioned Andy Wood as lead pastor in September 2022 when its founding pastor, Rick Warren, retired (see video below). Saddleback named Stacie Wood, Andy Wood's spouse, as "pastor" on its website as early as October. Episode 293 of "Doable Discipleship" is titled "A Conversation with Pastor Stacie Wood."

"The recommendation from the SBC Credentials Committee came 'on the basis that the church has a faith and practice that does not closely identify with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith, as demonstrated by the church having a female teaching pastor functioning in the office of pastor,'" Baptist Press also said, noting that the SBC's executive committee did not name Stacie Wood specifically.

"As stated in the Baptist Faith and Message Article VI, the SBC holds to the belief that the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture," SBC Executive Committee Chairman Jared Wellman said in a statement.

"These churches have been valued, cooperating churches for many years, and this decision was not made lightly. However, we remain committed to upholding the theological convictions of the SBC and maintaining unity among its cooperating churches," the statement also said.

Saddleback Church has 16 locations in the United States. Its pre-COVID average attendance surpassed 28,000, and it has more than 54,365 members, according to Baptist Press.

Watch then-Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church commission Andy Wood, Stacie Wood's spouse, below.

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