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SBC Church Ignites Twitter Storm After Ordaining Its First Female Pastor

vista community church
Photo from Twitter: @austintfischer

Austin Fischer, Vista Community Church’s (VCA) lead pastor, tweeted that the church ordained their first female pastor on Sunday October 31, 2021. VCA is listed as a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) church on the directory of SBC Churches.

“We ordained our first female pastor on Sunday. I understand [people] have diverse views on these things,” Fischer wrote. “I can only testify to what I have seen & discerned, which is the call of God upon so many daughters of God.”

Lauren Russell is listed on VCA’s website as their executive pastor.

It didn’t take long for SBC pastors Tom Buck, Dwight McKissic, Denny Burk, and others to continue their debate on whether women should carry the title of pastor within the church, and whether such a practice is in accordance with SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message 2000 [BFM2000].

The BFM2000 states in Section VI that the Church’s “scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

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McKissic wrote, “If @TomBuck wants to stop an autonomous local SBC church from exercising their freedom to affirm & empower women in ministry, within the context/parameters of a biblical framework, as they interpret Scripture-then he needs to call for a change in the BFM2K, that prohibits this.”

Burk, who is a Professor of Biblical Studies at SBC’s Boyce College, didn’t believe VCA was an SBC church until he found them in the directory. “Surely they are not SBC, right? Our doctrinal statement affirms that ‘the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture,’” Burk said. After finding their listing in the SBC directory, he wrote, “perhaps this listing is dated or otherwise incorrect?”

Buck replied to Burk, “At first I thought they weren’t, but then was told they were. I’m trying to verify. But I believe this is more prevalent in the SBC than we know. And there are certainly men in the SBC who are perfectly fine with it. There has definitely been a shift.”

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“For those (e.g., @pastordmack) who believe that a woman can be ordained as a pastor but cannot serve as ‘lead pastor,’ explain from Scripture how you arrive at this position,” Buck said in a later tweet. “In other words, if a woman can be ordained as a pastor, why can she not be the ‘lead pastor?’”