Parishioners stand by Alexandria church after being kicked out of Southern Baptist Convention

The First Baptist Church of Alexandria. (WTOP/José Umaña)

Last week, a historic church in Alexandria, Virginia, was ousted from the Southern Baptist Convention because of its position that women can serve in any pastoral role. Members of the church are standing by its leadership.

During Sunday services at the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Senior Pastor Robert Stephens addressed the congregation on the vote to remove the church from the Southern Baptist Convention. Much of what he imparted was from the church’s own long history.

“We have always been a church that did not need the approval of the masses, but one that was willing to always do what was right,” said Stephens. “Whether it was our first pastor, Jeremiah Moore, who was arrested for preaching without a denominational license … Or if that was our 12 messengers, who stood up proudly at the Southern Baptist Convention because they believe that both men and women were created in the image of God.”

Some parishioners that spoke WTOP after the service say they agree with the reverend’s remarks.

Nick Cirmo, who has attended services at First Baptist since 2001, called the vote booting the church out of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination “a complex issue.”

“I understand the Southern Baptists’ opinion,” said Cirmo. “And they believe that it may be a slippery slope to having, say, a woman as a senior pastor. But our church would never do that.”

Another parishioner, who goes by Miss Ramsey, says she’s been coming to services at First Baptist for 14 years and agreed with her church’s position.

“That’s the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Ramsey. “That we’re all equal. And we all have gifts. And if he gave the gifts of teaching to men, he gave it to women, he gave it to everybody else.”

The church plans to address the vote further at its quarterly business meeting on July 7.

WTOP’s Joshua Barlow contributed to this story.

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José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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