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SBC on fire

Four Churches Booted From SBC Over Female Pastors, Sex Abuse

On Tuesday, February 20th, The SBC Executive Committee voted to disfellowship from four churches. Last year, at around this time, the SBC disfellowshipped Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, setting his failed crusade for female pastors in the SBC. This year, the expulsions are less high profile, and only one of the four deals with female pastors while two deal with sex abuse allegations.

The first church is Immanuel Baptist Church of Paducah, Kentucky, whose senior minister is Katie McKown, a fact openly stated on their website. This church also has a male associate minister listed on its website. What is most surprising is that they boast a history of over a century. The building has a traditional aesthetic and a more liturgical order of worship. Except for the pastrix, this would otherwise be a traditional style of church. However, they do appear somewhat liberal in that they dispensed flu shots on Sundays, which is inappropriate for the church to conduct. While they are not as overtly liberal as Fern Creek, they are a blatant violation that was an easy decision for the SBC.

Grove Road Baptist Church was the second church dismissed for an alleged “lack of intent to cooperate in resolving a concern regarding the pastor’s mishandling of an allegation of sexual abuse.” The pastor in question is Terry Greene and this church has an exceedingly nonexistent online footprint despite a decent sized building that they share with a Reformed church.

Per Baptist Recorder:

Terry Greene pastors Grove Road Baptist, a small congregation of 20 members that averaged 12 in Sunday worship in 2021, the last year the church submitted statistics to the ACP. Greene previously pastored Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Greer, S.C., as early as June 2004, according to his profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook that have not been updated since 2020.

It is unclear whether the alleged incident occurred at Grove Road Baptist or elsewhere. This is a small church, perhaps for a reason, but Greene is the implied offender involved in this case.

West Hendersonville Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina is the third church that was disfellowshipped over “acting in a manner inconsistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse as demonstrated by their retaining as pastor an individual who is biblically disqualified.”

According to Baptist Press:

In 2004, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) revoked Mullinax’s teaching license for sending “improper emails” to a student, according to the DPI online database of more than 750 license revocations since 1967.

The EC is arguing that the revocation of his teaching license is grounds for disqualification in that this was a reproach, therefore making this pastor not above reproach for ministry. It is unclear whether the communications were sexual in nature as the database does not say. Presumably, if it were sexual solicitation, then it would probably be listed as it is for other revocations, even around 2004, and it would also be a crime, but that is unstated. His license was revoked for the mode of communication, not the content of the messages, so the SBC could be reaching by equating Mullinax with being a sexual abuser.

The final church is New Hope Baptist Church which was disfellowshipped for “lack of reported financial participation for at least the last five (5) years and its lack of intent to cooperate to resolve a question of faith and practice.” It does not have a female pastor and this church does not consider itself SBC. Although this is an overtly egalitarian church, that is a drop in the bucket concerning the questions of its faith and practice.

Their website states:

There are more than 250 Baptist churches in Gaston County and New Hope Baptist Church is one of four churches that ordain women into ministry as deacons and pastors. We believe in equality in ministry and we do not discriminate between genders. We want our children growing up knowing that there is neither “Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for we are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

They pitch feminism as a value proposition. Beneath this is a “Unity in Diversity” belief statement, which makes it obvious that this church is indeed woke. This church is clearly unorthodox in its faith statement, which would beg further questions from the SBC EC, but perhaps their statement on the Bible is the most egregious:

The biblical story in all of its richness and diversity is formative for the life of our church. We understand that the Bible is not a flat or static text. It is God’s living and dynamic word that climaxes in the life and ministry of Jesus. The bible is a story of our human messiness, failings, and shortcomings and God’s relentless pursuit of us. We interpret the scriptures through the life and ministry of Jesus, and we weigh out the tensions and allow the love of Christ to have the final say in how we live.

Much talk about the richness and diversity, but nothing about the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. This is the most overly woke church of the four in question, and yet another church with decades of history that has succumbed to the culture.

The circumstance surrounding Grove Road Baptist is unclear and represents the one disputable claim of the four while the reproach against Jerry Mullinax is uncertain, but at least has some justification for the disfellowshipping. Overall, the SBC Executive Committee is doing its job, even if at a sluggish pace regarding disfellowshipping bad churches. The last thing they need is another committee to slow roll the urge to purge, because how many more churches are on the rolls that need to go?

Nevertheless, they should provide more transparency in an official report rather than use the Baptists Press. Specific details surrounding claims of sexual abuse, or mishandling thereof need to be laid out in detail without the Executive Committee hiding behind the “noncooperation” of a local church. Obviously, if they know something, they should declare exactly what they know so that there is information for the messengers to act upon if there is an appeal. 

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