Community News

First Baptist Church of Alexandria Moving Forward Despite SBC Expulsion for Allowing Women Pastors

First Baptist Church of Alexandria (Photo courtesy FBCA)

ALEXANDRIA, VA-First Baptist Church of Alexandria has been a part of the city since 1803. A 2003 Washington Post article, written about its history for its 200th anniversary, reported that the church originally consisted of both Black and White parishioners, who worshiped as the Alexandria Baptist Society. Eventually, Blacks would leave to found the Alfred Street Baptist Church, while Whites built the First Baptist Church on North Washington St. They stayed there for a century, until the church moved to its current location at 2932 King St.

Though steeped in tradition, the church is progressive in some aspects. For instance, it allows women to lead as pastors. Because of this choice, the AP reported earlier this week that the church has been expelled from the Southern Baptist Conference. Southern Baptist doctrine dictates that only men can be pastors. The report says, however, “Some interpret that only to apply to associate pastors as long as the senior pastor is male.”

First Baptist is currently led by Robert Stephens. For over four decades, women have been in ministry there. It could not be reached for comment.

On its website, the church has a section on information regarding this ban and its motives going forward. Written before the vote took place, the FAQ describes what might happen as a result of the expulsion, which has happened. It says the church, which existed “long before” the Conference, will keep its name. It also says that First Baptist will continue to follow its beliefs.

“Women in pastoral ministry is not a new reality for FBCA,” the document adds. “We have historically ordained 3 women to ministry in the last 30 years, and we have had multiple women in pastoral positions already on staff.”

Only four percent of the church’s budget goes to the SBC, so those funds will be reallocated as the congregation continues its mission work.

Stephens spoke before the vote at the SBC’s annual meeting. The AP reported his words:  “First Alexandria stands before you today as a testament that we can maintain a fruitful partnership with churches that take a different stance on women in ministry,” he said. “We at First Baptist are advancing the gospel, and we hope that we will continue to work alongside you all.”

First Baptist is not allowed to appeal the decision. The church was first reported to the SBC in 2022 for not following doctrine, its website says. Two women served as pastors during that time, because the church is “resolute in recognizing God’s calling to ministry for both men and women.”

ICYMI: River Farm Unveils New Native Garden

Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also studied at the Columbia School of Broadcasting and holds a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

Related Articles

Back to top button