Wife of Saddleback Church Leader Becomes Newest Pastor Amid SBC Misgivings on Women Clergy

Stacie Wood, the wife of Saddleback Church Lead Pastor Andy Wood, became the California megachurch’s latest female teaching pastor on Sunday.

Pastor Andy made the announcement amid reservations from the leadership of the Southern Baptist Conference on allowing women to become part of the clergy.

SBC’s Take on Female Clergy

According to an Associated Press report published by WSLS.com, SBC has traditionally maintained its policy of ordaining only males into clergy positions. Accordingly, Saddleback Church’s practice of ordaining women clergy comes at odds with such male-leadership policies.

The megachurch’s decision to give leadership roles to women started during founding pastor Rick Warren’s time as its head. Warren, the author of the best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life” and former lead pastor of the now-international church, began the practice of ordaining women clergy despite the clear policies against it by the SBC leadership.

Warren’s decision to ordain three women as church pastors prompted the influential SBC Protestant denomination to consider kicking out the megachurch. Nonetheless, Warren stood by his church’s ordination of the three women in his speech at the SBC’s annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

At that conference, Bart Barbers was elected SBC President – a Texas pastor known for his strict conservative leanings.

Delegates reportedly debated and came short of putting into vote the possibility of expelling Saddleback from the fold for its controversial move. Warren said in his speech that Baptists should instead focus on coming together to complete missionary works.

“Are we going to keep bickering over secondary issues, or are we going to keep the main thing the main thing?” AP News quoted him saying.

With Andy Wood taking the Saddleback Church helm for a month now, the controversial practice continues with no less than his wife, Stacie, being ordained pastor.

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‘God’s Spiritual Gifts to Men, Women’

Wood explained that the Bible clearly said that God gave both men and women “spiritual gifts,” which is why it’s not wrong to give women leadership roles in the church.

“The church should be a place where both men and women can exercise those spiritual gifts. My wife has the spiritual gift of teaching and she is really good. People often tell me she’s better than me when it comes to preaching, and I’m really glad to hear that,” WSLS.com quoted him saying.

He added that he is “not looking to engage in denominational battles” but to serve as a “unifier of people – to help, love and support pastors in the SBC.”

Baptist Women’s Stand on SBC Ban Against Women Clergy

In a separate AP News article, some Baptist women expressed their disapproval of how the SBC sees women’s role in the church.

Emily Snook, 39, said she had contemplated leaving the Baptist church for good due to its unfriendly attitude towards women, particularly in giving them leadership roles.

Snook’s father is a Southern Baptist pastor, just like her husband, whom she met while attending a Southern Baptist university.

Beth Moore, a popular Bible teacher and considered the “best-known evangelical woman” globally, received negative comments when she expressed disapproval of former President Trump in 2016. She also drew flak when she aired her view about the denomination’s “problems with sexism.”

Another Baptist woman, Karen Swallow Prior, expressed her disgust at how many in the denomination vilified Moore and covered up sex abuse allegations by male Southern Baptist clergy. She also warned about women saying goodbye to the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

“If these women leave, it won’t be because Beth left. It will be because the men the Baptist Faith and Message says are supposed to lead in Christ-like ways have failed to do so,” Prior explained. 

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