Rick Warren's Saddleback Church is one of five churches that have been removed from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) after installing women as senior leaders.
The churches were deemed “not in friendly co-operation with the Southern Baptist Convention” by the body's executive committee on Tuesday (21 Feb), following a recommendation from the SBC Credentials Committee.
Speaking ahead of his retirement last autumn, Rick Warren, founder of the Southern California megachurch announced that Andy Wood would be his successor. While not a co-leader, Andy's wife Stacie serves as a teaching pastor at the church.
The SBC has stated that the church "has a faith and practice" that does not align with the Convention's adopted statement of faith that “while both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
"[This is] demonstrated by the church having a female teaching pastor functioning in the office of pastor,” the SBC said.
Other women holding the title of pastor at Saddleback are Liz Puffer, pastor of pastoral care; Cynthia Petty, NextGen ministries pastor and Katie Edwards, student ministries pastor for Saddleback’s Lake Forest campus, one of 16 U.S. Saddleback sites.
Premier has reached out to Saddleback Church for comment.
Posting on Instagram, former pastor Warren said: "We'll respond to #SBC in OUR time & our way thru direct channels."
The SBC executive committee also cut ties with New Faith Mission Ministry in Griffin, Georgia, St. Timothy’s Christian Baptist in Baltimore, Maryland, Calvary Baptist in Jackson, Mississippi, and Fern Creek Baptist in Louisville, Kentucky - all of which have females appointed as senior or lead pastors.
In addition to this, Freedom Church in Vero Beach has also been removed from the Convention for failing to co-operate with a sexual abuse allegation against its senior pastor.
According to Baptist Press, Freedom Church has denied the charge "pointing to a matter investigated and resolved by the Anglican Church of North America."