Female Baptist Minister Resigns
A woman whose call as a pastor in 2011 sparked controversy in an association of Baptist churches in North Carolina has resigned, citing a lack of consensus among members about the congregation’s vision and direction for the future.
Bailey Edwards Nelson, pastor of Flat Rock Baptist Church in Mount Airy, N.C., since July 2011, announced her resignation Feb. 17 and concluded her service Feb. 28. She said March 4 that she decided to step down from the pastorate “out of care for the congregation, myself and my family.”
Nelson, a graduate of Furman University and McAfee School of Theology who previously served congregations in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, was the first female pastor in Surry County in north central North Carolina.
Surry Baptist Association responded by withdrawing fellowship from the congregation on July 26, 2011, saying the majority of member churches believe the Bible prohibits women from serving as senior pastors. At least two other congregations quit the association over disagreement with the ouster vote.
Nelson said she doesn’t think the association’s action had anything to do with her eventual resignation, but she acknowledged that local and national media attention to the church’s decision to call a woman as pastor was probably unsettling for those unaccustomed to change.