The California-based megachurch Saddleback Church, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, has identified the new lead pastor's wife as a "teaching pastor" despite the denomination's stance on the pastoral office being limited to men.
Pastor Andy Wood, the successor of former pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren, lists his wife, Stacie, as a "pastor" in his biography on the church website.
"Pastors Andy and Stacie Wood started their ministry in California as church planters in the Bay Area," the biography reads, according to The Christian Post. "They began Echo Church in 2009, and it eventually became one of the fastest-growing churches in the area."
Earlier this month, Stacie Wood preached at the church with a message titled "The Courage to Slow Down" and was identified as a "teaching pastor." Prior to moving to Saddleback Church, she previously served alongside her husband as a "teaching pastor" at Echo Church.
Andy Wood, who was interviewed by the Associated Press on Monday, told the outlet that he wanted Saddleback to empower "men and women to lead" and said the Bible "teaches that men and women were given spiritual gifts by God."
"The church should be a place where both men and women can exercise those spiritual gifts," he contended. "My wife has the spiritual gift of teaching, and she is really good. People often tell me she's better than me when it comes to preaching, and I'm really glad to hear that."
Earlier this year, Saddleback Church drew backlash for ordaining three women despite the SBC's stance that only men can be pastors, according to the denomination's official statement of beliefs, the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.
Wood told the Associated Press that he is thankful for partnering with the SBC and hopes that their relationship will continue despite their differences.
"I'm not looking to engage in denominational battles," Wood said. "I'd really like to be a unifier of people — to help, love and support pastors in the SBC."
As Christian Headlines previously reported, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary passed a resolution earlier this month affirming the SBC's stance that the office of pastor is limited to men.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.