Southern Baptist Convention Votes to Place Restrictions on Women as Leaders

June 15, 2023
church with stained glass windows

It takes away complete freedom from the church.

Rev. Linda Barnes Popham, who has pastored her church in Kentucky for 30 years. Her church was one of two churches expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention for having women as pastors.

Why It Matters: The Southern Baptist Convention – the United States' largest Protestant denomination – met for their annual meeting this week. Prior to this year, the SBC had a theological statement recommending (not necessarily requiring) that “the office of pastor is limited to men." This week, they approved an amendment to their official legal documents stating member churches must have “only men as any kind of pastor or elder as qualified by Scripture.” The amendment, which must be voted on again in 2024 before going into effect, would impact an estimated 1,900 churches with women pastors.

Something To Consider: Amid the debate about women in church leadership roles, the SBC voted to expel two churches with female pastors: Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and Saddleback Church in Southern California (one of the convention's largest churches).

Barnes Popham, whose church was expelled, said "It’s like they’re trying to legislate purification.” President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler, remarked, “We do not seek to invade the autonomy of any local church. At the same time, this convention has the sole responsibility to establish its own membership."

Southern Baptists Vote to Further Expand Restrictions on Women as Leaders

by Jenna Lee,