Southern Baptist Leaders Vote for Controversial Changes at Annual Convention

June 15, 2000

Source: The Boston Globe

On June 15, 2000, The Boston Globe published an article on the SBC ban on women pastors. James Merritt, the Georgia pastor who is the newly elected president for the group, defended the ban on women pastors: "The issue is not competence; the issue is God's word. The calling by God to the pastorate is for the male only. I think a lot of these people who say they've been called are mistaken." The convention's stand against female pastors leading congregations was written into the revised Baptist Faith and Message statement. It does not ban individual congregations from having female pastors. But every faculty member of every Baptist seminary must sign the statement, which becomes the basis for Christian education in Southern Baptist Sunday Schools and day schools. In the mainstream of American Protestantism, the ordination of women has been commonplace for more than a generation. Methodists, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians not only ordain women but also have elevated them to roles of national leadership. In Southern Baptist churches, the number of women pastors has never risen above a few hundred in a denomination that boasts nearly 16 million people and 41,000 congregations. Today, 35 women head Southern Baptist congregations.