The news of the Saddleback Church’s decision to ordain three women as pastors last week, a first for the largest Southern Baptist Convention-connected church in the U.S., was received with both applause and disdain.
The church posted the news on Facebook, proclaiming that it was a “historic night.”
Appointing women to the position of pastor goes against the traditions of strictly male leadership within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
On Monday, SBC President, J.D. Greear shared his unhappiness over the Saddleback’s move in his blog.
“While I have long respected Saddleback’s ministry impact and heart for getting the gospel to the nations, I disagree with their decision to take this step, and would even say I find it disappointing,” he wrote.
Greear, who also pastors The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, went on to clarify what the position of women in ministry should look like.
“We need these women in the home, speaking courage into their family’s lives. We need them in ministry, calling us to give and pray and go and sacrifice,” he explained. “We need them in society, leading with wisdom, courage, and faith.”
Summit Church, he said, is “unashamedly and uncompromisingly complementarian” and considers the position “not merely a box to be checked, but rather a biblical truth to be celebrated.”
A complementarian view suggests that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in religious leadership.
Greear added that “equipping and platforming women to thrive in ministry is not a passion we share because of personal opinion or preference. We are convinced that there is no such thing as a healthy church in which the men flourish and the women do not.
“Thus, by cultivating an atmosphere where our sisters can thrive, we cultivate an atmosphere in which our brothers will thrive as well,” he concluded.
Saddleback lists more than 24,000 members as well as 18 campus pastors, all of whom are male. The newly ordained women, Liz Puffer, Cynthia Petty, and Katie Edwards, are long-tenured staff members.
The news comes just two months after evangelist Beth Moore announced that she no longer feels at home in the SBC. The shift ended her professional partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing, and distribution division of the SBC.
As CBN’s Faithwire reported, the split between Moore and her affiliates ended on good terms.
“I am still a Baptist,” Moore clarified, “but I can no longer identify with Southern Baptists. I love so many Southern Baptist people, so many Southern Baptist churches, but I don’t identify with some of the things in our heritage that haven’t remained in the past.”