Southern Baptists reject ban on women pastors, elect new president

By Mike Heuer

June 12 (UPI) -- The Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday voted against a proposed church constitutional amendment to restrict women serving in pastoral capacities. On the same day, it elected a new president, as well.

The vote during the SBC's annual meeting in Indianapolis rejected a push by a more conservative faction of the SBC to rein in congregations that have female pastors and gain more influence within the church.


The proposed amendment reflected the SBC's statement of faith and would have made it easier to enforce church doctrine and remove individual churches from the denomination when they have women pastors in leadership posts.

The SBC narrowly defeated the measure while supporting greater local control of churches to better reflect community standards and oppose rising opposition to women pastors within the church.

The vote came after two years of internal disputes regarding the growth of women pastors within the SBC, which is the nation's largest Protestant denomination.

If the SBC had approved the amendment, it would have required several local churches with women pastors to exit the denomination.

Passing the amendment also would have given the SBC more power to apply doctrinal standards regarding women's roles in the church.


Two churches last year succeeded in opposing their expulsion from the Nashville-based SBC.

The Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and the Saddleback Church in Southern California initially were ousted from the church but appealed the move during the church's annual meeting last year.

In other business, the SBC elected pastor Clint Pressley as the SBC's new president.

Pressley is the senior pastor at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., and was elected over First Baptist Church of Sevierville, Tenn., senior pastor Dan Spencer.

The final vote showed Pressley with 56% and 4,244 votes of the total to Spencer's 44% and 3,305 votes.

Five candidates initially sought the president's post, but a second vote determined the winning candidate when no candidate secured a majority vote on the first ballot.

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