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MinistryWatch’s Top 10 Stories for the Month of June

The following stories had the most page views at the MinistryWatch website during the month of June. We present them here in a “countdown” format, from 10 to 1. The first few sentences of each story are reproduced below. To read the entire story, click on the link. To read the Top 25 stories of 2022, click here.

  1. Pat Robertson, Broadcaster Who Helped Make Religion Central to GOP Politics, Dies at 93

Pat Robertson, a religious broadcaster who turned a tiny Virginia station into the global Christian Broadcasting Network, tried a run for president and helped make religion central to Republican Party politics in America through his Christian Coalition, has died. He was 93. Robertson’s death was announced by his broadcasting network. No cause was given.

  1. Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church Approves Ordaining Gay Clergy

The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church at its annual meeting last week approved allowing openly gay clergy members to serve in its churches. “The die is cast. We’ve crossed the Rubicon. It’s done. There’s no turning back,” said Larry Rankin, a retired minister who was at the meeting. More than 90% of clergy members in attendance voted in favor of commissioning a slate of 24 clergy candidates that included three who are known to be LGBTQ, The Ledger reported.

  1. At PCA General Assembly, Voters Address Gender, Sexuality, and Sexual Abuse

At its 50th General Assembly last month, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) debated and voted on several overtures, or church-legislation measures, related to women in ministry, sexuality, and sexual abuse response. Leaders and representatives of the Atlanta-based denomination met in Memphis, Tennessee, to celebrate the body’s silver anniversary and to conduct church business. Commissioners, or voting delegates, approved the limitation of the title of pastor, elder, and deacon to ordained people—a reaction to some PCA churches naming women as deacons. They passed overtures clarifying that only heterosexual men can hold church offices. And they rejected several overtures related to sexual abuse prevention and response measures.

  1. SBC to Take up Issue of Women Pastors at 2023 Annual Conference

Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention’s constituent churches has been plummeting, its national leaders are feuding or quitting, and any good work the denomination could boast about has been largely overshadowed by a sex abuse crisis. All these factors threaten to erode the SBC’s so-called “rope of sand” — bonds of trust, rather than official hierarchy or legal ownership, that bind together the 40,000 churches and 13 million members of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. Yet most of the denomination’s adversity will be overshadowed during the SBC’s annual meeting in New Orleans by a slow-simmering debate that has heated up among Baptists over the past few years: What should be done about the handful of women who serve as pastors at SBC churches?

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  1. Belmont University Cancels Promise Keepers Event

Belmont University, a private Christian college in Nashville, Tennessee, was set to host a Promise Keepers event this fall. That was until Promise Keepers released a statement about Pride Month. Promise Keepers said on their website: “God’s Word is very clear on this topic—and we also see the way gender ideology has damaged lives, mutilated bodies, and torn apart families in our own communities.” Promise Keepers CEO Ken Harrison told Church Leaders that it was because of this statement Belmont pulled the plug on the Promise Keepers event set to be hosted at the school on September 29.

  1. Rick Warren Campaigns for Southern Baptist Reinstatement of Saddleback Church

Days before the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, former megachurch pastor Rick Warren has appealed to his fellow Southern Baptists to overturn a denominational decision to oust his Saddleback Church because it permits women to serve with the title pastor. “This should be the moment where 47,000+ autonomous, independent, freedom-loving churches say NO to turning the Executive Committee into a theological Magisterium that controls a perpetual inquisition of churches and makes the EC a centralized hierarchy that tells our congregations who to hire and what to call them,” Warren wrote in an open letter released June 2. The SBC’s Executive Committee voted in February to oust Saddleback, approving a recommendation of its credentials committee that determined the congregation was “not in friendly cooperation” because Stacie Wood, wife of Warren successor Andy Wood, had the title of “teaching pastor.”

  1. Ouster of Saddleback and Fern Creek from SBC Over Women Pastors is Affirmed

Delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting affirmed a decision to expel two Southern Baptist churches, including Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, because they employed women as pastors. The churches had appealed to the meeting, the denomination’s ruling body, to be allowed to remain. Both churches were denied by a strong majority of the delegates, known as messengers. The body affirmed the ouster of Saddleback by a vote of 9,432 to 1,212. The vote went against Fern Creek Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, by 9,700 to 806.

  1. EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: Duggar Doc ‘Shiny Happy People’ Should be Warning to Church

I found myself both frustrated and mesmerized by the new Amazon Prime documentary “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets.” As the title suggests, it purports to be the behind-the-scenes story of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their children, the stars of the TLC hit television series “19 and Counting” and a number of spin-offs. The show was TLC’s most popular. But all was not well in DuggarWorld, as the documentary shows. All of this has, of course, been tabloid fodder for the past dozen years. In the beginning it was a “feel-good” story of a large and happy family, and more recently it was a train wreck from which we could not avert our eyes. The problem with treating the story as tabloid fodder, which this new documentary continues to do, is that it will likely prevent the church from dealing with important issues.

  1. Just How Bad is Denominational Decline?

(ANALYSIS) One mistake I make all the time is assuming someone else has probably done the work that needs to be done to get the answer I want. This post was driven by looking for an answer to a pretty simple question: If denominations just managed to grow at the same rate as the general population of the United States, how large would they be today? I mean, it’s readily apparent that denominations are losing membership at an alarming rate. I wrote a deep dive into the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) a few weeks ago. But I wanted to be a little less deep and a little broader in this post. I grabbed membership data on nine denominations.

  1. Dave Ramsey Sued for $150 Million by Former Fans Who Followed His Timeshare Exit Advice

A group of former followers of Dave Ramsey has sued the Christian finance guru and radio host, along with his company and a marketing firm, for endorsing a failed timeshare exit company that allegedly defrauded customers out of millions. Seventeen former Ramsey listeners filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington alleging Ramsey was paid as much as $30 million from 2015 to 2021 to endorse Timeshare Exit Team, a Kirkland, Washington-based firm that collected $200 million from clients — many of them Ramsey listeners — in exchange for a promise to free them from their timeshare obligations. That promise came with a money-back guarantee.