Saddleback Church’s Ordination of Women Pastors to Be Considered By SBC Committee

By Adelle Banks
Warren Saddleback Women Pastors
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren and others pray over the first three women the church has ordained as pastors on May 6, 2021. (Source: Facebook)

A committee that determines whether churches are conforming to Southern Baptist Convention affiliation rules will consider whether Saddleback Church, a prominent California congregation led by bestselling author Rick Warren, can continue in fellowship with the SBC after Saddleback recently ordained three women pastors.

Shad Tibbs, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Trout, Louisiana, made the request on Tuesday, the first day of the Southern Baptists’ two-day annual meeting.

Tibbs called on the SBC to “break fellowship with Saddleback Baptist Church, as they have ordained three ladies as pastors, and all other churches that would choose to follow this path. At the very least, I am asking that the validity of this matter be looked into.”

Saddleback, which does not have “Baptist” in its name but is one of the largest churches affiliated with the SBC, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

President J.D. Greear, who was officiating at the afternoon session when Tibbs made his motion, said the challenge would be filed with the credentials committee.

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Saddleback’s ordinations of three longtime staffers on Mother’s Day weekend drew criticism from prominent Southern Baptist leaders and praise from supporters of women in ministry. One month later, in an apparently unrelated development, Warren announced that a search has been initiated for his replacement as Saddleback’s senior pastor. 

Local associations or state conventions have removed several churches after they appointed women as pastors, but the SBC, the national body, has not.

Tibbs cited the Bible and an article of the denomination’s faith statement, the Baptist Faith and Message, last updated in 2000, which says, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

Tibbs cited a verse from 1 Timothy in the New Testament, as the faith statement does, which says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to remain quiet.”

According to the SBC bylaws, the credentials committee considers such requests and makes a recommendation to the Executive Committee if it concludes the church “is not in friendly cooperation.” If the Executive Committee decides the church is no longer welcome, its ruling will be made public. If a church should appeal such a decision, messengers at an annual meeting could decide whether to sustain the ruling.

Bob Smietana contributed to this report.

Adelle Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at Religion News Service.



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7 thoughts on “Saddleback Church’s Ordination of Women Pastors to Be Considered By SBC Committee”

    1. Nothing needs to be considered;kick them out, they have clearly violated the 2000 BF&M. Show the world you will not only disfellowship small SBC churches but large ones like Saddleback. This should not take the Committee very long.

      1. Sandy Williams

        To say “kick them out” seems terribly unchristian. Whether women should be ordained is a secondary matter; good Christians differ on what the Bible teaches and requires.

        1. I am not serious in my coment, I was trying to make a point. I believe the terms kick them out would best describe the SBC’s position on women pastors. My point is the SBC has kicked out the little churches that have called women and it has not cost them much financially, but Saddleback is probably different. I do not want any churches kicked out.

  1. I am RLMAO. I go to saddleback church. Most members don’t even know it’s affiliated with the SBC. I didn’t until a few years ago. No big deal. It was about the good works and saving souls business. So go ahead kick us out. Nobody will even notice or care. And based on what I have read about the TRUE GODLY members and leaders of the SBC!!! Thank you. We don’t need to be affiliated with that sexist and racist and pervert protecting organization. Byeeeeee

  2. Darren Gruett

    Regardless of one’s views on ordaining women, and kind of in line with what another commentator has said, maybe Saddleback does not care if they were removed from the SBC, given all the trouble there. Under other circumstance, maybe this would be a big deal, but given all the other serious issues in the SBC, this one seems almost petty by comparison, not to mention ironic. It is almost like trying to pick out a speck in someone else’s eye while the log is still in their own.

  3. This might depend on what people mean by “ordination”. If these women are handling areas that don’t involve preaching & teaching Bible to men, then what was done was a commissioning. If they are not serving as elders, that makes it different. It also matters what their nomenclatures will be. The word “ordain” can be very slippery, unless clearly defined.

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