First ordained Southern Baptist woman, Addie Davis
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Addie Elizabeth Davis graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1963 and began serving at the Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham, NC. The pastor, Warren Carr, was a theological moderate who preached against segregation and opposed fundamentalism. In 1964, the church ordained Davis despite some internal opposition from members of the ordination committee. Davis, however, struggled to find a Southern Baptist church willing to hire a female pastor. She spent the rest of her ministry as an American Baptist Association (ABA) pastor in Vermont, Rhode Island, and Virginia. She was named the ABA pastor of the year in 1971.Davis' ordination, while it did not attract broader scrutiny at the time, foreshadowed the coming struggle between Southern Baptist conservatives and moderates over the ordination of women, which would play a major role in the split between the progressive Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the more conservative SBC in 1991.
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Watts Street Baptist Church- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Ildar Sagdejev (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Leonard, Bill, 2005. Baptists in America. New York: Columbia University Press.
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