Recent debates have left them discouraged and uncertain about what’s next for female leaders.

On the ten-hour drive home from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in New Orleans, Leah Finn had questions.

Finn felt like she should know enough to understand the changes that 12,000 Southern Baptists approved at their gathering in mid-June. She had been following the proposals for months, she knew the rules of parliamentary procedure, and her husband, Nathan Finn, serves as a trustee on the SBC Executive Committee.

With the rejection of Saddleback Church’s appeal, it was clear the convention held a strong consensus against women as lead pastors and preaching pastors and would be willing to break fellowship over the issue. But what about women in other roles?

The SBC moved to change its foundational documents to reiterate its stance: amending its constitution to explicitly state that cooperating churches must restrict “any kind” of pastor to qualified men and rewording its faith statement to say that “pastors/overseers/elders” are male.

Many Southern Baptist leaders advocating for the new wording saw it as a way to clarify their shared complementarian convictions. But some women have quietly worried that the changes, and the surrounding debate, could call into question or further limit their place in the denomination.

Leah Finn thought of her friends who serve as ministers at SBC churches, teach at SBC seminaries, and pursue degrees at SBC schools and wondered how the decisions would affect them in the years ahead.

She and her husband ended up writing an op-ed for Baptist Press, the SBC’s official outlet, lamenting how the annual meeting left female leaders “uncertain about their future in Southern Baptist life.” Some wonder what moves could come next, and others …

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