A Southern Baptist pastor spearheading a drive to ban women from serving as church leaders has released a report noting 170 women in pastoral jobs in violation of the denomination’s men-only doctrine.
The Rev. Mike Law Jr., senior pastor of Arlington Baptist Church in Virginia, released the 219-page report this month. Baptist News Global, an independent news service, first reported on the document last week.
According to his research, 51 women hold the title of “senior pastor,” “lead pastor” or “pastor.” Another 20 are listed as “associate” or “assistant” pastor, and 47 hold titles as “children’s pastor” or “youth pastor.” Eleven women are listed as “worship pastor” and 12 as “elder,” while 35 have “other” titles with a pastoral role.
“Some have claimed that female pastors in the [Southern Baptist Convention] don’t really exist,” Mr. Law wrote. “The data in this document indicates otherwise.”
With 13.7 million members, the SBC is the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. According to its doctrinal statement, the office of pastor is “limited to men qualified according to Scripture.”
Mr. Law has proposed amending the denomination’s constitution to ban women pastors, saying his effort aims to strengthen church unity by clarifying the rules for Southern Baptist churches.
A post by Mr. Law at sbcamendment.org states that the 170 figure came from “only a small review” of the SBC online directory of local congregations. It stated the “vast majority” of the 170 congregations are in Virginia and Texas, “simply because [these] were the states most readily capable of review” by Mr. Law and some associates.
“This was not a scientific or a statistical study, even so, what is revealed is that the numbers are not decreasing, they are increasing,” the posting reads.
Prospects for Mr. Law’s proposed amendment are uncertain. An SBC Executive Committee subcommittee discussed the matter in February, but no action on the proposal was taken.
An SBC spokesman said the Executive Committee will meet in New Orleans on June 10, one day before the denomination’s annual business meeting, but the agenda for that session hasn’t been announced yet.
The issue of women serving as Southern Baptist pastors has caused contention in recent years. The SBC Executive Committee expelled Saddleback Church, the denomination’s second-largest congregation, at the February meeting. The Lake Forest, California, congregation is expected to appeal its expulsion.
• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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