The Greater Tabernacle Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, recently hired a female pastor, which resulted in the church's removal from the Lawrence County Association of Baptists by a vote of 73 to 4 on Oct. 12 (video below).
“It’s hard because I know a lot of members are scared they’re gonna lose the building, scared that they’re gonna lose their property,” Pastor Shonda Reynolds-Christian told News Channel 5.
Reynolds-Christian was voted in as pastor by all 40 members of the church, the only African-American Baptist church in the area.
“I was called,” Reynolds-Christian added, “And I just believe that God opened up the door and, you know, that's how it happened.”
Minister Mark Kemper, of the association, told the news station the reason for the vote: "Because God said that and it’s not anything that we decided on our own. We take God for his word.”
Reynolds-Christian countered, "I think this is more how man feels and not about God."
Because the church has been kicked out of the association, it may lose its building, which reverts back to the association.
“The members of the church knew what the documents said and when they made their decision they knew that,” Kemper stated.
The association has told church members that they can possibly get back in if they dump Reynolds-Christian as pastor, but that's not going to happen, according to churchgoers.
“We encouraged them to reconsider,” Kemper explained, “They decided they weren’t going to do that so we did what we had to do. They put us in this position.”
According to the church website, Reynolds-Christian has a bachelor's degree from Middle Tennessee State University, master's degree from Cumberland University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Andersonville Theological Seminary.