Southern Baptists oust one church for having woman pastor, two others over sexual-abuse policy

The Southern Baptist Convention’s top administrative body voted Tuesday to oust four congregations — one for having a woman as senior minister, two for what it said were failures related to the denomination’s sexual-abuse policy and one for lack of financial participation.

The SBC’s Executive Committee announced the decision after a closed-door session at the end of its two-day meeting in Nashville. These are the latest in a series of expulsions in recent years, most notably when it ousted one of its largest, California’s Saddleback Church, and a Louisville, Kentucky congregation for having women in ministry leadership roles.


On Tuesday, the committee ousted Immanuel Baptist Church of Paducah, Kentucky, whose senior minister is a woman. The SBC’s official statement of faith says the office of pastor is open only to men.

Immanuel said in a Facebook statement that it affirmed its “decision to to call Rev. Katie McKown to serve with and among us.” It cited Baptist tenets emphasizing the autonomy of congregations and individuals, and it offered prayers that the SBC “be blessed with wisdom and discernment as it moves forward.”

Each Southern Baptist church is independent, so the denomination can’t tell churches what to do. But it can decide whether churches can be members or be ousted.

The committee ousted Grove Road Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, for allegedly showing a “lack of intent to cooperate in resolving a concern regarding the pastor’s mishandling of an allegation of sexual abuse.”

It also expelled West Hendersonville Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina, for allegedly failing to comply with the denomination’s beliefs about sexual abuse by having a “biblically disqualified” pastor.

The fourth church, New Hope Baptist of Gastonia, North Carolina, had failed to participate financially in the convention and showed no intent “to resolve a question of faith and practice,” the committee said without elaboration.

The churches have the right of appeal to the full annual meeting of the SBC in June in Indianapolis.

The conservative denomination has previously ousted congregations for pro-LGBTQ+ stances and having women in ministry. It’s also expelled churches over alleged racism and failure to address abuse, an area the denomination has long faced pressure to address. On Monday, the committee learned of plans for an independent commission that would keep track of clergy predators.

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