After Saddleback Lead Pastor Rick Warren spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, the SBC’s credentials committee postponed its verdict over Saddleback’s women pastors.

The "Purpose Driven Life" Pastor made a surprise visit to SBC's annual conference and urged the delegates of local messengers to set aside divisions and focused on finishing the great commission that the Lord had given, Religion News Service reported

"I love Southern Baptists," he said.

Warren went on to encourage Southern Baptists to put their views aside and act together to promote the gospel throughout the world. Baptists can work together despite their religious differences, he added. He said as the Western culture becomes worse and more secular, he asked the denomination they should decide if they will consider themselves allies or not.

Division On Church Theology

He came to appeal as the denomination was set to debate on whether or not to remove Saddleback for breaching a ban on women pastors. In May 2021, Saddleback ordained Liz Puffer, Cynthia Petty, and Katie Edwards as staff pastors. The denomination was divided over the Southern Baptist Convention's declaration of faith which limits the role of pastor to men. Some Southern Baptists said the rule was directed to senior pastors only while some were firmed that no woman should be considered a pastor.

Linda Cooper, chair of the credentials committee, told messengers earlier Tuesday that the committee had not reached on conclusion on Saddleback. She said that Southern Baptists were conflicted about whether the ban applies to the church's lead pastor or any other staff person who is considered a pastor. Instead, the committee suggested forming a research group to investigate the problem.

Albert Mohler immediately objected, claiming that a study group was unnecessary. Southern Baptists understand what the word "pastor" means, according to Mohler, who worked on the committee that rewrote the SBC statement of faith to include the ban on women pastors.

First Baptist Church of Jacksboro Pastor Jack Maddox also expressed the same sentiment saying though it was well-intended to speak about the issue before the church, he was against forming another committee since they had a book that talks about it.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Adam Greenway advocated revising the committee's suggestion to include a deeper investigation into how closely congregations should adhere to the SBC statement of faith. However, his proposal was rejected after a break.

Also Read: Rick Warren's Successor Andy Wood Cleared From Former Staff's Allegations

Saddleback Church Remains In The SBC

After Warren's speech, the credentials committee postponed their recommendations and said they will convene throughout the year to conclude on Saddleback's issue in the coming months.

Previously, churches were ejected from the SBC for having LGBT members, neglecting sexual abuse, and racist behavior. Though there were churches that had left SBC in the past after appointing women pastors, no church had ever been expelled for doing so.

Warren challenged messengers to accomplish the Great Commission before he left the conference. Warren intends to devote his remaining years to the Finishing the Task Network, an organization dedicated to expanding missionary activity.

Related Article: Southern Baptist Ministers React To Saddleback Church's Decision To Ordain Three Women As Pastors