Statement of the Board of Directors of American Baptist Home Mission Societies affirming women pastors

SAN JUAN, PR (6/24/23)—The Board of Directors of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) wholeheartedly affirms women pastors. Clergywomen have been and remain essential to our churches and the fulfillment of our mission to spread the gospel.

Out of the 51 leadership team, missional staff and board members of ABHMS, twenty-three, or 45%, are ordained women and either presently or have served in pastoral ministry. Other members of our board have either hired or actively support women in pastoral roles. Our board president is the Rev. Dr. Jamie Washam, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in America in Providence, Rhode Island, founded in 1638. Our vice-president is a church planter, the Rev. Dr. Mia Chang, founder of NextGen Church in West Windsor, New Jersey. These clergywomen and their churches represent the continuity of Baptist life.

Baptists in the United States have long ordained women to pastor and preach. In 1818 Freewill Baptists ordained Clarissa Danforth, and in 1882 May Jones was ordained as a Northern Baptist, the forerunner to current American Baptists. For generations, women have served in every level of leadership within the denomination and the local church. For us, ordaining women to serve in pastoral roles is a settled issue. We are on strong biblical ground and stand firm within the conviction of the priesthood of all believers. This gives us a foundation to continue to build the church in the image of God in all its manifestations.

Living into the full expression of God’s call is an ongoing gift to our churches, denomination and the world.

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American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

 American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.