SBC messengers approve proposed amendment banning women pastors in denomination

Messengers hold up their ballots at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, on June 14, 2023.
Messengers hold up their ballots at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, on June 14, 2023. | Robin Cornetet/Baptist Press

Messengers with the Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly to advance a measure to prevent women from serving as a "pastor of any kind," bringing the denomination one step closer to solidifying the rule as a constitutional amendment.

The proposed amendment to the SBC constitution, spearheaded by Virginia Pastor Mike Law of Arlington Baptist Church, passed Wednesday afternoon following a vote from over 12,000 messengers gathered at the denomination's annual meeting in New Orleans.

The amendment was passed by approximately 80% of the SBC's messengers by raised ballot. The new measure establishes a condition for churches to affiliate with the SBC: no woman within the church would be permitted to hold the title of pastor. For the amendment to be permanently made to the SBC constitution, it must pass at next year's meeting as well, according to the SBC Constitution.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

"I move that the Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention be amended to include an enumerated 6th item under Article 3, Paragraph 1, concerning composition. The enumerated 6th item would read: '6. Does not affirm, appoint, or employ a woman as a pastor of any kind,'" Law said from the floor on Wednesday.

"We are not ashamed of 1 Timothy 2:12 or afraid of what the Bible teaches. We are not ashamed of our God and His Word." 

The denomination's Baptist Faith & Message 2000 states that "the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."

In a statement last year, Chuck Kelley, Al Mohler and Richard Land, who wrote the study guide for the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message Confession, stated that the word "pastor" means "one who fulfills the pastoral office and carries out the pastor's functions." 

The SBC Executive Committee endorsed the recommendation to present the amendment banning women pastors to the full convention for a vote. However, the committee explicitly recommended that the messengers vote against the amendment.

The EC said that while it affirms Article VI of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, which states, "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture," it "deems that our beliefs are most appropriately stated in our adopted statement of faith rather than in our constitution and therefore opposes a suggested amendment to SBC Constitution."

The move comes just hours after messengers voted to uphold the removal of Saddleback Church, founded by Rick Warren, from the denomination due to the California megachurch allowing a woman to serve in the office of teaching pastor.

Saddleback's expulsion was upheld by 9,437 votes (88.46%) to 1,212 votes (11.36%), with 19 ballots disallowed.

Ahead of the vote, Warren argued that Southern Baptists should agree to disagree on the matter of female pastors, stressing that the church agreed with all but one word in SBC doctrine: men.

"We should remove churches for all kinds of sexual sins, racial sin, financial sin, leadership sin, sins that harm the testimony of our convention," Warren said. "But the 1,129 churches with women on pastoral staff have not sinned."

Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, responded to Warren, warning Saddleback was threatening the unity of the SBC.

"It's not just a matter of church polity; it's not just a matter of hermeneutics," Mohler stressed. "It's a matter of biblical commitment, a commitment to the Scripture that unequivocally we believe limits the office of pastor to men."

"Here we face the unusual situation in which Dr. Warren himself has made repeated statements, and the church has taken repeated actions that make very clear it rejects the confessional understanding of the Southern Baptist Convention on this issue."

The disfellowshipping of Fern Creek Baptist Church of Louisville, Kentucky, for having a woman serve as pastor of the congregation was also upheld by the messengers.

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles