By Jeff Brumley
A South Carolina church affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has been booted from its Southern Baptist association over women in leadership roles.
The Independent-Mail in Anderson, S.C., reported that First Baptist Church of Pendleton has been cut from the Saluda Baptist Association because it has a woman serving as associate pastor.
The church, which has an entirely female staff except for senior pastor Courtney Kruger, according to its website, had belonged to the association for 172 years, the newspaper reported. The congregation is also a partner church with the CBF of South Carolina.
Association leaders wrote the church explaining that they believe Scripture limits the office of pastor to men.
“While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture,” said a letter quoted by the Independent-Mail. It added that the SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message forbids women in pastoral roles in member churches.
While thanking the association for being respectful through the process, the church was undeterred in its commitment to honoring the call to ministry — regardless of gender.
It also cited historic Baptist principles behind its stance.
“Part of what it means to be a Baptist is to be free and autonomous,” Jennifer McClung Rygg, associate pastor at First Baptist Pendleton, told the newspaper. “This church knows that they support women as ministers. That’s part of who we are as a church.”
McClung Rygg’s calling to the church continued the congregation’s long practice of recognizing the spiritual gifts of women. It has ordained women deacons since 1985.
Krueger said he was inspired by an ordained woman youth minister to pursue his calling into the ministry.
“She knew I was called before I did,” he told the Independent-Mail.