In what was touted by Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church as “a historic night,” the church on Thursday ordained its first women pastors.
“Yesterday was a historic night for Saddleback Church in many ways!” the church, which has 15 campuses and a weekly attendance of more than 23,000, announced on Facebook. “We ordained our first three women pastors, Liz Puffer, Cynthia Petty, and Katie Edwards!”
Saddleback is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest Protestant denomination in the country, which officially opposes women’s ordination. The Roys Report reached out to the SBC for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
In an interview with Live Good, newly appointed pastor, Cynthia Petty, said Pastor Warren first informed her of her pending ordination in November.
“He explained that he and the elders had been discussing for many months the possibility to ordain women as Pastors at Saddleback Church,” Petty explained. “He told me that the elders unanimously voted to appoint me one of the first three women pastors at Saddleback Church! . . . He affirmed my leadership and my calling to ministry, and it was a conversation I will not forget.”
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Petty added that she has always served in churches where women could lead “under the authority of a male pastor.” She called Warren’s change in philosophy for women in ministry “revolutionary.”
“I was honored and felt extremely humbled,” she added. “And the thing I believe meant the most to me was how this would be groundbreaking for all the younger women ministers on staff who really did have the desire or dream to be a pastor one day!”
All three newly appointed Saddleback pastors have been serving in ministry at the church for more than 20 years.
Petty has been serving in children’s ministry at Saddleback since 1998, and according to her LinkedIn page, was educated at Golden Gate Seminary.
Puffer has been serving in pastoral care at Saddleback since 1994 and was educated at Rockbridge Seminary, according to her LinkedIn page.
Katie Edwards has been serving in youth ministry at Saddleback since the late nineties.
As Edwards explains in a message she gave at Saddleback in 2019, she has been attending Saddleback since she was 13 years old and “met Jesus” as a 14-year-old at a Saddleback high school summer camp.
Also on Thursday, Saddleback appointed Pastor Johhny Baker as the new global leader of Celebrate Recovery.
Baker is the son of John Baker, the founder of Celebrate Recovery, who died unexpectedly in February. (Baker’s cause of death has not been made public.)
In a Facebook post, Johnny said, “I am so honored to follow in my dad’s footsteps and I’m committed to carrying the legacy of Celebrate Recovery forward. I miss my dad every day and I wish he could have been there with me. But I know he is in the great cloud of witnesses and that this is something we planned on, something he wanted, he was just supposed to be here with me.”
Saddleback also commissioned three elders this week: Anthony Miller, Jeremiah Goley, and Jason Williams.