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Saddleback’s Status as an SBC Church in Doubt As Mohler, Ascol, Others Push For Disfellowship on the Convention Floor

Explaining that some measure of variance in convictions exists within the denomination, Greenway said, “That is the issue at stake that the credentials committee needs [to provide clarity for.]”

The Credentials Committee chose to accept the amendment to their original recommendation, which put it to the floor for discussion and a vote.

Ascol Weighs In

In discussion, Florida pastor and SBC presidential candidate Tom Ascol dismissed the idea of the amendment out of hand.

“It seems like we’re making things far more complex than they should be. We do have the Baptist Faith & Message. It is not equivocal in its language. It’s very simple. It’s very clear: if churches choose to call people pastors that are not biblically qualified to be pastors, that is a matter for the church to resolve,” Ascol said. “I think we have spoken rather clearly as a Convention. And I think if we adopt this amendment, it will further complicate something that has no reason to be complicated.”

“It’s simple. Saddleback has ordained women to be pastors very loudly. They’ve celebrated it. The Southern Baptist Convention has said [that] we do not believe that women get to serve in the office of pastor,” Ascol continued. “So let’s not do this amendment. Let’s defeat it. And then let’s defeat the original recommendation.”

After discussion, a vote on whether to accept Greenway’s proposed amendment was cast. As the vote via raised ballot was too close to call, a written ballot was collected. Given that the allotted time to discuss the issue had expired and thousands of votes needed to be hand counted, the issue has been tabled until Wednesday afternoon.

ChurchLeaders original article written on the morning of June 14, 2022:

Saddleback Church, one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention and in the nation as a whole, will not be disfellowshipped by the SBC’s Credentials Committee—at least not yet. 

Saddleback became the subject of controversy within the SBC in May 2021 after ordaining multiple women on their staff to the position of “pastor,” which seemed to contradict their affiliation with the SBC. 

Article VI of the Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M) 2000, the unifying statement of belief for the SBC, says, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

While these women were ordained by Saddleback as pastors over areas of leadership that do not appear to be prohibited by the Baptist Faith & Message for a woman to oversee, ambiguity over the use of the term “pastor” itself has caused division within the denomination. To some, the prohibition of female pastorship is limited to the lead pastor of a church, while others believe that women are barred from being awarded the title entirely.