Magazine article The Christian Century

Moderate Baptist Church Calls Second Woman Pastor

Magazine article The Christian Century

Moderate Baptist Church Calls Second Woman Pastor

Article excerpt

A North Carolina Baptist church has called its second woman pastor--an act that is still rare among Baptist moderates, despite the fact that virtually all moderate and progressive Baptist institutions support women's eligibility for the ministry.

Providence Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina, voted unanimously May 3 to call Julie Merritt Lee as pastor. Lee, who will take the pastoral reins following the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in July, says she is excited about her call.

Many female ministers in moderate Baptist life run into a stained-glass ceiling blocking them from the role of senior pastor. Providence Baptist Church is an exception. It has had a woman as its lead pastor from the start.

Gail Coulter was assistant pastor at First Baptist Church in Asheville, North Carolina, before becoming Providence's first pastor in 2002. The church sought membership in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, but decided to affiliate nationally with the CBF instead of the Southern Baptist Convention.

That decision, coupled with the calling of a woman as pastor, didn't sit well with some conservatives. …

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