Elevation Church, the North Carolina megachurch known for its popular Elevation Music, has voluntarily withdrawn from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
The decision to leave took place two weeks after the very public and contentious Southern Baptist annual meeting, which saw five churches expelled because of their women pastors, including Rick Warren's Saddleback Church.
In a letter sent to the SBC’s Executive Committee and to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Elevation Church said it was “withdrawing its affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention effective immediately.”
While Elevation’s letter gave no reason for the church’s departure after more than two decades in the SBC, it is believed the reason stems from the fact that Holly Furtick, wife of Elevation pastor Steven Furtick, preaches regularly at the church.
Elevation Church's withdrawal is a huge blow to the SBC. According to reports, Elevation averages over 10,000 attendees each week. In 2021, they amassed over $100M in donations. In addition, Elevation Church is a major player in the Christian music space with their extremely popular Elevation Worship (https://www.youtube.com/@elevationworship) .
With roughly 13M members, the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Baptist denomination in the world. It is the largest Protestant and second-largest Christian denomination in the United States.
Nevertheless, membership for the SBC has been sliding for over a decade. In the last three years, the SBC lost nearly 1.5 million members. Given the global pandemic, the convention's controversial stance on women as pastors and LGBT issues, and the lack of racial diversity among it's church members and in leadership have all contributed to the SBC's steady decline in membership.