Among Chinese Southern Baptists, Women Continue to Use Pastor Title

Leaders say “due to history and language” churches use the term for non-ordained ministers and women.

The title of pastor is used for women in Chinese Southern Baptist churches because of language, history, and culture, but does not indicate churchwide authority, the Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the USA and Canada (CBFUSA) said in an official statement.

Rather, the title of “Reverend” is used to denote authority in the Chinese Southern Baptist church, is given through ordination and is limited to men, the CBFUSA’s board of directors said in its November 3 statement, “Women in Ministry: Roles and Titles in Chinese Baptist Churches.”

The group released the statement to inform Southern Baptists of the unique circumstances Chinese Southern Baptists face in using the title of pastor, and in light of messengers’ votes at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting signaling the title be limited to men, CBFUSA senior liaison Amos Lee told Baptist Press.

“We feel the need to clarify the unique situation in Chinese Baptist churches, most of which are affiliated with Southern Baptists, regarding the designation we use for ministers who serve in our churches to avoid misunderstanding of where we stand in light of the issue of ‘women pastors’ debated at the 2023 SBC,” Lee said.

“It is also important because we want those in the leadership of the SBC to consider and be aware of the diversity we have within the larger family of Southern Baptists whose practices and nuances that are unique to our communities because of history and culture, especially in language which is somehow ‘lost in translation.’”

Women hold the titles of pastor, minister, evangelist, teacher, and “Bible women” in Chinese Southern Baptist churches today, according to the official statement, …

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