Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church was expelled for ordaining a female pastor.
saddleback Church, one of the largest congregations in America, has been removed from the Southern Baptist Convention after appointing a female teaching pastor, against the SBC’s teachings.
Stacie Wood — wife of Andy Wood, who replaced Warren as Saddleback’s lead pastor last summer — was named a “teaching pastor” last October.
On February 21, the SBC’s executive committee approved a recommendation from the denomination’s credentials committee to declare Saddleback Church was “not in friendly cooperation with the Convention.” The decision was based on the church’s faith and practice, which SBC officials claim does not align with the convention’s adopted statement of faith. Saddleback’s decision to appoint Wood as female teaching pastor was the specific reason cited by the committee for the church’s removal.
Saddleback’s support of women’s leadership has been under scrutiny for some time. In 2021, the church ordained three women who had been long-time staffers, a move that drew criticism from some prominent Southern Baptist leaders and praise from supporters of women in ministry. The move prompted an investigation by the SBC’s credentials committee.
Saddleback now has the option to appeal the decision at the SBC’s next annual meeting in June in New Orleans. Mike Keahbone, an executive committee member who tweeted about the appeal, said it “appears likely” that the church will exercise this option.
Saddleback’s elders issued a statement following the executive committee’s decision, saying they value their relationship with the SBC and will respond in time.
“We love and have always valued our relationship with the SBC and its faithful churches,” they said. “We will engage and respond through the proper channels at the appropriate time in hopes to serve other like-minded Bible believing SBC churches. Meanwhile, we remain focused on following God’s leadership to love and serve our church family and the communities around our campuses.”
Former Pastor Rick Warren, who ordained Stacie and the other women at Saddleback, addressed the situation on Instagram.
“Friends worldwide: We’re so touched by your love!,” he wrote. “Kay & I love you back! We’ll respond to #SBC in OUR time & our way thru direct channels: Our newsletters to 600,000 church leaders; Daily Hope radio broadcast; 1 million PDC alumni pastors list; 11 million social media followers; Luke 23:43″
Saddleback Church is not the only church to be ousted from the SBC for having a woman serve in a pastoral role. Four other churches — New Faith Mission Ministry in Griffin, Georgia, St. Timothy’s Christian Baptist in Baltimore, Calvary Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi, and Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky — were also declared to no longer be in friendly cooperation with the denomination. Additionally, Freedom Church in Vero Beach, Florida, was ousted due to a lack of intent to cooperate in resolving a sexual abuse allegation.