Local News

Christian magazine pulled from some bookstores’ shelves

Posted September 21, 2008 6:16 p.m. EDT
Updated September 22, 2008 9:47 a.m. EDT

— A national Christian magazine featuring a Durham pastor is causing controversy after it was pulled from the shelves of a major book chain.

For nine years, pastor Sheryl Brady has used her enthusiasm and energy to inspire her congregation at The River Church, 4005 Holt School Road. So when she was chosen to be on the cover of Gospel Today magazine, as one of the fastest growing women-led congregations in the United States, she jumped at the chance.

“It was a huge honor. I was just blessed to be there,” Brady said.

However, soon after the magazine's September-October issue was published, all 150 Lifeway Christian Bookstores pulled the issue from its shelves because of its affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The group says women pastors go against its beliefs, according to its interpretation of the New Testament.

“I'm shocked. I'm shocked that you're here (and) that we're having this conversation. I'm shocked that in 2008 that there's still a gender prejudice in the church,” Brady said.

Published for nearly 20 years, Gospel Today is the largest and most widely distributed urban Christian publication in the country, with a circulation of 240,000. The magazine's publisher, Dr. Teresa Hairston, said she was just reporting on a trend, not trying to promote female pastors.

“I look at this and I think it's humiliating. I think it's degrading that they would take this magazine and yank it off the shelves because women are in leadership,” Hairston said.

Nationally, the Southern Baptists have adopted statements discouraging women from being pastors, but their 42,000 U.S. churches are independent and a few have selected women to lead their congregations. The denomination was organized in 1845 in Augusta, Ga.

Chris Turner, a spokesman for Lifeway Resources, said the cover was not the reason the magazine was pulled from Lifeway's shelves.

"The buyers said the statements that were in it took positions that were contrary to what we would say," Turner said. "It wasn't so much that there were women on the cover."

Pastor Bill Sanderson – a staunch supporter of the Southern Baptist Convention – said in a statement Sunday,  " We go by scripture and what the word of God teaches." 

Sanderson added, "A man holds the position of pastor not a woman."

“You can't tell me I'm not a pastor. I'm a shepherd of these people,” Brady said.

Featured on the cover are Brady; Pastor Tamara Bennett of This Is Pentecost Ministries in Sacramento, Calif.; Bishop Millicent Hunter of The Baptist Worship Center in Philadelphia, Pa.; Pastor Claudette Copeland of New Creation Christian Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas; and Pastor Kimberly Ray of Church on the Rock in Matteson, Ill.