(RNS) — A North Carolina megachurch, known for its popular music and charismatic pastor, has left the Southern Baptist Convention.In a letter sent to the SBC’s Executive Committee in Nashville and to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Charlotte-based Elevation Church said it was “withdrawing its affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention effective immediately.”
The letter was published by Baptist Press, an official SBC publication. A spokesman for the North Carolina Baptist Convention confirmed receiving the letter.
“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,” the letter reads. “Should your Credentials Committee decide to make this decision by Elevation public, we will only respond with a copy of this letter to anyone inquiring about the notification.”
The SBC’s Credentials Committee is charged with determining if churches are in “friendly cooperation” with the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. That cooperation includes giving to SBC causes and closely following the SBC’s doctrine.
Earlier this year, five congregations — including Saddleback Church, which was one of the largest SBC churches in the country — were expelled from the SBC for having women pastors.
The SBC’s statement of faith says only men can hold that office.
During their recent annual meeting, Southern Baptists passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would bar churches that have women pastors of any kind. That amendment must be ratified in 2024.
By some estimates, about 2,000 SBC churches have women serving in pastoral roles — including supporting roles like associate pastors, children’s pastors and music ministers.
Elevation’s letter gi …