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More than 10,000 Southern Baptists gather for meeting that could bar churches with women pastors

More than 10,000 Southern Baptists gather for meeting that could bar churches with women pastors


More than 10,000 Southern Baptists gather for meeting that could bar churches with women pastors

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 10,000 voting representatives gathered Tuesday for the opening of the Southern Baptist Convention's two-day annual meeting, where they will vote on whether to ban churches with women pastors.

Some 10,553 messengers, as delegates are known, are meeting in Indianapolis.

On Wednesday, they are expected to debate whether to amend their constitution to ban churches with any women pastors — from lead to associate roles. The measure received preliminary approval last year.

Early Tuesday, a small group of women stood outside the Indiana Convention Center in a low-key demonstration in support of women in ministry.

“I hope that people know women have equal value and can be pastors,” said the Rev. Meredith Stone, executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, an organization that originated within the SBC in the 1980s, but it now works with women in a variety of Baptist denominations.

The SBC’s statement of faith says that while women and men are both “gifted for service” in the church, the office of pastor is reserved for men alone. Some interpret that to mean only senior pastors, but the amendment would also apply to women in associate roles even if the senior pastor is male.

The SBC can't tell its independent churches what to do, but it can decide whether they are in or out. Since 2023, it has ousted some churches with women in pastoral positions, including Saddleback Church, a California megachurch.