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BREAKING: Southern Baptist Convention loses megachurch after the SBC-confirmed ban on women pastors

Southern Baptist Convention headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee on May 24, 2022. (Holly Meyer / AP File)

Christianity's Southern Baptist Convention lost disgruntled North Carolina-based Elevation Church - a megachurch claiming some 26,000 congregants every week in 2022.

This number ranks the church at number 7 in attendance among U.S. Protestant churches, according to conflicting reports. But even if true, the number of congregants accounts for only 0.2% of the 13,000,000-members claimed by SBC, which also claims 47,000 churches as members, according to its website.

Elevation's disaffiliation comes less than one month after the SBC confirmed the ouster of California-based Saddleback Church, which is supposedly the second-largest Protestant congregation in the U.S., plus 4 other churches for having women serve as pastors.

Elevation sent a notification letter to the SBC dated June 26, "effective immediately," but the communication did not provide a reason for the departure. Yet notably, Pastor Steven Furtick's wife Holly preaches and posts her sermons online.

So it stands to reason, according to many observers and commentators, that the megachurch's decision to leave the SBC is due to the latter's long-held stance against women pastors. A position that was overwhelmingly confirmed by over 10,000 voting delegates at last month's annual convention held this year in New Orleans.

Elevation was founded in 2006 while the SBC dates back to 1845.

An SBC doctrinal statement, "The Baptist Faith & Message 2000," declares that "the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."

Elevation expressed its desire to continue working with the SBC.

“We pray that we will continue to be able to work alongside many SBC churches in the coming years. We know there is much we can do more effectively in partnership than we can do alone,” the letter from Elevation concludes. “May God bless the SBC and her churches in the years ahead.”



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