Monte Vista Baptist Church held a vote on whether or not to withdraw on July 30 following the convention’s recent decisions that “only men are qualified by Scripture to serve as pastor of a local congregation and the subsequent exclusion of some churches where women were serving in a pastoral position” according to a release from the church. The vote was unanimous to leave.
“Equality in ministry has been part of our DNA for many years. We believe God may call whomever God desires and places them wherever God wants them to serve,” said Senior Pastor Jerry Mantooth. “Monte Vista has ordained women to serve as deacons, chaplains, and in positions of leadership within the local church. We currently have a woman serving on our pastoral team. It has become increasingly difficult to remain associated with a ministry partner that does not share our deepest values.”
This decision follows SBC’s refusal in June to welcome Saddleback Church of California and Fern Creek Baptist Church of Kentucky back into its fold, rejecting an appeal by the churches of their February ouster for having women pastors. In February, the SBC’s Executive Committee also voted to oust three other congregations that chose not to appeal, for having women pastors.
According to the AP, Baptist churches are independent, and the convention can’t tell them what to do, however, it can decide which churches are “not in friendly cooperation,” the official verbiage for an expulsion. The SBC’s official statement of faith says the office of pastor is reserved for qualified men, but the February vote is believed to be the first time the convention has expelled any churches over it.
According to the release, Monte Vista’s relationship with SBC began to shift in 1979 when the “denomination entered into a conservative resurgence.” The church has been dually aligned with the SBC and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship since 1990. The release goes on to say that Monte Vista will continue its affiliation with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which is a moderate alliance that “shares its commitment to the historic Baptist principles of autonomy and freedom.”