Alexandria church faces expulsion from denomination over female pastors

First Baptist Church of Alexandria (2932 King Street) faces expulsion from the Southern Baptist denomination because of its female pastors.

The Southern Baptist Convention only allows men to occupy the office of pastor/elder/overseer, but the Washington Times reported that Kim Eskridge has held the position of pastor at the church in Alexandria for nearly 20 years.

First Baptist Church said in a statement that two women were on staff serving as pastors when the church was reported to the Southern Baptist Convention in 2022.

The possibility of the church’s expulsion comes after a push within the religion to crack down on the prohibition of women from holding the title of pastor, an effort spearheaded by a pastor from the Arlington Baptist Church.

The church was contacted in April and told that it was under “formal inquiry” and that a motion would be made on the floor of the Convention in June this year to “unseat our messengers.”

The church said on website that it plans to stay its original course and will send 12 representatives to the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis in June.

According to the church website:

In 2022, First Baptist Church of Alexandria was reported to the Credentials Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for being “out of step” with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.” At the time, there were two women serving as pastors in staff. Then in 2023, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) overwhelmingly voted to disfellowship (or vote out) two Southern Baptist churches for the same reasons: Saddleback Church in California and Fern Creek Baptist Church in Kentucky. Further, the SBC voted to adopt a constitutional amendment specifying that SBC churches can only employ men as pastors or elders.

This action was in stark contrast to the longstanding ideal that SBC churches were autonomous and that, “the Convention does not claim and would never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, associations or convention.”

As a church that employed two female pastors at the time, First Baptist Church of Alexandria (FBCA) was engaged in this debate and grieved by this result. We remain resolute in recognizing God’s calling to ministry for both men and women. For nearly 100 years, women have had a prominent role in ministry and positions of authority at FBCA.

In the coming year, the SBC will continue to debate this question. A second vote to ratify the amendment will take place and potentially other action will be taken against our church specifically. At that time, FBCA members will have to respond graciously and make difficult decisions about the future of our church’s participation in the SBC.

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