North Carolina-based megachurch Elevation Church, led by popular preacher Steven Furtick, has ended its affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention after more than 20 years of partnership with the world's largest Baptist denomination.
Letter from @ElevationChurch withdrawing from SBC references Credentials Committee. Has a complaint been filed on them?— SBC Platform (@TheSBCPlatform) June 30, 2023
"Should your Credentials Committee decide to make this decision by Elevation public, we will only respond with a copy of this letter in anyone inquiring..." pic.twitter.com/agfYFCINAk
"This letter is to inform you that Elevation Church is withdrawing its affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention effective immediately. You will find that our Statement of Beliefs on our website is very much in line with the Baptist Faith and Message — we have no intention of changing those core beliefs," Chunks Corbett, CFO of Elevation Church, wrote in the letter dated June 26.
"We have no plans to make a public announcement on this decision — we have too much to do in reaching a world that needs the love of Jesus. Should your Credentials Committee decide to make this decision by Elevation public, we will only respond with a copy of this letter in anyone inquiring about the notification," Corbett added.
While the letter did not give a specific reason for Elevation's departure, some Southern Baptists, including Denny Burke, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's undergraduate school, believed that the decision may have stemmed from a recent vote by messengers at the SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans to ban women from serving as a "pastor of any kind."
"I was today years old when I learned that Steven Furtick's Elevation Church was a part of the SBC. They are SBC no more," Burk tweeted. "Reading between the lines here, I suspect that this is a consequence of the clarity from messengers at the New Orleans convention."
I was today years old when I learned that Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church was a part of the SBC. They are SBC no more.— Denny Burk (@DennyBurk) June 30, 2023
Reading between the lines here, I suspect that this is a consequence of the clarity from messengers at the New Orleans convention. https://t.co/mSzWxhjme1
On June 14, more than 12,000 messengers voted in favor of a proposed amendment to the SBC constitution clarifying that women cannot serve as pastors. In a separate vote earlier, messengers voted to uphold the SBC's removal of Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California for permitting a woman to serve as a teaching pastor.
As stated in the Southern Baptist Convention's Baptist Faith & Message 2000, "the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."
The proposed constitutional amendment could become permanent if it gains majority support at the SBC annual meeting in 2024.
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.