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Southern Baptists reject formal ban on female pastors

(NewsNation) — In a historic vote, the Southern Baptist Convention rejected a formal ban on women serving as pastors.

This year’s Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis is centering around the role of women in the church, including a vote on formally banning churches with female pastors. In an unexpected turn of events, members voted against the formal ban which would have strengthened the ability to enforce rules against female pastors.

Nearly 10,000 church members have gathered for the meeting and on Tuesday, 92% of the messengers, which is what the group calls representatives, voted to expel a Virginia congregation that believes women can be in the pulpit.

The First Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, allows women to serve in pastoral roles, though there has been some debate over women serving in associate pastor positions rather than senior pastor roles. But according to Southern Baptists’ beliefs, women are not allowed to serve as pastors.

The voting representatives overwhelmingly voted to uphold the gender rules banning women from pastoral leadership by expelling the church but failed to pass an amendment to the denomination’s constitution that would have formalized the rule.

The Southern Baptist Convention already bans female pastors informally but amending the constitution would have strengthened the ability to enforce that rule.

The Virginia church that was expelled has been a part of the denomination since the 19th century and has donated millions of dollars to church causes. The expulsion shows just how seriously Southern Baptist leaders are taking the issue.

The proposed amendment gained preliminary approval last year, with this year’s vote a final step. More than 10,000 members took part in the vote.

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