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(LOS ANGELES) — The Southern Baptist Church Executive Committee announced it will oust five churches for having female pastors, including one of the largest churches in the convention, California’s Saddleback Church, according to the church’s news service, Baptist Press.
After Saddleback Church’s founding pastor, Rick Warren, retired last year, the megachurch hired Andy Wood and his wife Stacie Wood to head the church, according to the church’s website.
The convention deemed Saddleback Church as “not in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention,” it said in a Facebook post.
The convention cited Stacie Wood’s role as a teaching pastor of the church as the reason for the ousting, stating that the Baptist Faith and Message says only men can members of the office of the pastor, according to Baptist Press.
“As stated in the Baptist Faith and Message Article VI, the SBC holds to the belief that the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture. These churches have been valued, cooperating churches for many years, and this decision was not made lightly. However, we remain committed to upholding the theological convictions of the SBC and maintaining unity among its cooperating churches,” executive committee chairman Jared Wellman said in a statement to ABC News.
The other churches ousted for having female pastors were New Faith Mission Ministry in Griffin, Georgia; St. Timothy’s Christian Church in Baltimore; Calvary Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi; and Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, according to Baptist Press.
A sixth church was also ousted for failing to cooperate with the credentials committee regarding a sexual abuse allegation against its senior pastor, according to Baptist Press.
All six churches will have the opportunity to appeal the decision in June at the SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Fern Creek said it would appeal the decision, according to Baptist Press.
The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1917. It is made up of 86 representatives chosen from qualified states and regions.
Saddleback Church did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
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