The Southern Baptist Convention has been dealt a blow after being told that North Carolina megachurch Elevation will be leaving the movement.
It comes months after Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church was thrown out by the SBC over its appointment of female pastors.
After the Catholic Church, the SBC is the biggest denomination in the USA with 47,000 congregations making up 13 million members but has faced numerous criticisms in recent years for sticking to its complementarian approach to women in leadership.
Earlier this year it expelled 5 churches who were “not in friendly cooperation with the Convention due to the churches continuing to have a female functioning in the office of pastor”.
Elevation Church, known for the teachings of Pastor Steven Furtick and its music offering Elevation Worship, has an average attendance of over 27,000 across numerous locations.
Without referencing the issues over women leaders, the Church issued a statement saying while it would still work with SBC churches, it would no longer be part of the movement.
“You will find that our Statement of Beliefs on our website is very much in line with the Baptist Faith and Message – we have no intention of changing those core beliefs.
“We have no plans to make a public announcement on this decision – we have too much to do in reaching a world that needs the love of Jesus. Should your Credentials Committee decide to make this decision by Elevation public, we will only respond with a copy of this letter to anyone inquiring about the notification.
“Thank you again for the privilege of having been affiliated with the SBC all these years. Please know that our withdrawal from affiliation in no way means that we will withdraw from praying for you and your ministries and mission work in the future – we are all on the same side!
“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. May God bless the SBC and her churches in the years ahead.”
Holly, the wife of Steven Furtick, is a regular preacher at Elevation Church but currently doesn’t take the title of pastor.
We pray for greater unity in your Church.
Bring people together under the purpose of us living out the Great Commission which Jesus called on us for.