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Southern Baptists Reject Formal Ban on Churches with Woman Pastors, Oppose IVF

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In one of the most anticipated votes at their annual convention on Wednesday, Southern Baptist delegates voted down a measure that would have enshrined a ban on churches with women pastors in the convention's constitution.

"It failed to reach the two-thirds threshold that's required to make it an amendment," Dr. Ed Stetzer, Dean of Theology at Biola University, told CBN News.

Tuesday the SBC expelled First Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA. The church has a woman pastor over children and women but also believes women can serve as a senior pastor.

"Women have had a prominent role within the ministry and pastoral positions within the leadership of First Alexandria for over 44 years," Pastor Robert Stephens of First Baptist Church Alexandria said on the floor of the convention.

The SBC deemed the church's stance in conflict with the Baptist faith and message.
Stetzer said the narrow defeat of the measure called the Law Amendment sends a message.
"By the amendment failing, it means there's not a new rule in place that, for example, you can't use the word pastor at any term, like children's pastor, that a woman might be in," he explained. 

Stetzer added, "That tells you that in the vast majority, the vast, vast majority of southern Baptists want to hold the line at a complementarian view."

"It just shows you that southern Baptists are determined to abide by what the scripture says about the office of pastor," said Lawrence Smith, one of the convention delegates who are known in the SBC as "messengers," and Communications Director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. 
The SBC also grappled with the ethics of in-vitro fertilization. Delegates moved to express concern about the procedure, particularly the issue of surplus embryos. 

A resolution called on Baptists to, "reaffirm the unconditional value and right to life of every human being -- including those in the embryonic stage. And to only utilize reproductive technologies consistent with that affirmation, especially in the number of embryos generated in the IVF process." 
The convention also approved sexual abuse reforms. 

Two years ago, a task force was charged with creating resources for churches, including a database of pastors accused of abuse.

The denomination's executive committee has now been tasked with implementing those recommendations.

"For the sake of survivors, for the sake of just the rightness, the goodness of followers of Jesus doing what they should do, there needs to be paths to take it seriously," Stetzer said. "And what I would say is it's not going to be easy, and it may be one of the more controversial things that they lead, but that's what leaders do."
Meanwhile, from a field of six candidates, the SBC also elected North Carolina's Clint Pressley as its new president. 

Pressley, who heads Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, is known for his conservative leadership style.

"It took two ballots or three actually to elect someone," said Smith. "But I think Clint's going to do a great job, a great man of God, and he'll do a lot to, if there are any lingering fractures among the messengers, among our convention, he'll work to heal those."

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About The Author

Charlene Aaron

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter, news anchor, co-host of The 700 Club, co-host of 700 Club Interactive, and co-host of The Prayerlink on the CBN News Channel. She covers various social issues, such as abortion, gender identity, race relations, and more. Before joining CBN News in 2003, she was a personal letter writer for Dr. Pat Robertson. Charlene attended Old Dominion University and Elizabeth City State University. She is an ordained minister and pastor’s wife. She lives in Smithfield, VA, with her husband.