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Church News

Andy Stanley criticises Southern Baptist Convention over female pastor fallout

by Lydia Davies

Pastor Andy Stanley, from North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, has publicly criticised the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for disfellowshipping Rick Warren's Saddleback Church over the ordination of a female teaching pastor.

According to the Christian Post, in a sermon delivered on Sunday, Stanley, son of the late Southern Baptist pastor and televangelist Charles Stanley, emphasised the need to "remove obstacles" for those seeking to follow Jesus Christ.

Identifying himself as "theologically conservative," Stanley said that the progress many churches were making to reach the lost "is being undermined and reversed like crazy."

He described the decision to excise his church from the denomination as “prioritising politics over mission.”

"Church leaders are resurrecting old barriers that we spent years tearing down. And they're adding new barriers," he added.

Stanley cited Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and author of the best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life, as an example, saying: "Last year, his denomination kicked him out.

"For something immoral? No. Something illegal? No. Something that had to do with money? No. Because he had some addiction? No.

"They kicked him out because he had the nerve to ordain three female staff members, who were functioning as pastors … and they kicked him out of the church."

Stanley declared that "you don't get any more insider-focused than that," arguing that too many Evangelical leaders "are prioritising politics over mission," calling it "just sick."

In February 2023, the SBC Executive Committee declared Saddleback not in "friendly cooperation" with the convention. The controversy centred on Pastor Andy Wood, who succeeded Saddleback founder Rick Warren as lead pastor, listing his wife, Stacie, as the church's teaching pastor.

The Baptist faith & message 2000, the convention's official statement of beliefs, states that the "office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by scripture."

Although the church had previously ordained three female pastors in May 2021, the convention cited Stacie Wood's role as 'teaching pastor' as the reason for the expulsion.

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