Julie Pennington-Russell, a pioneer among Southern Baptist women in ministry and early supporter of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, is stepping down as pastor of First Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga. She announced April 29 in an open letter to church members that May 31 will be her final Sunday at the congregation. Pennington-Russell, 54, who was called as the first female pastor of the historic church located in the Atlanta suburb in 2007, cited “persistent tensions and divisions within our fellowship” for leading her to what she termed “a difficult decision.” She is a native of Orlando, Fla., and graduate of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, who pursued doctoral studies at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary. She first attracted national attention in 1993. After Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church in San Francisco called her as pastor, the California Southern Baptist Convention refused to seat messengers from the congregation because it was led by a woman. In 1998, she became senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, prompting protestors to picket the church’s Sunday morning worship service. In 2009, the Georgia Baptist Convention ended its 148-year relationship with First Baptist Church of Decatur, finding the decision two years earlier to call a woman as pastor outside the parameters of the Baptist Faith & Message statement adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000.
Pastor named editor of New Mexico Baptist state paper. The Baptist Convention of New Mexico Executive Board unanimously elected Kevin Parker as the 15th editor of the Baptist New Mexican, effective May 19.He succeeds John Loudat, whose April 30 retirement after 21 years of service caps the longest tenure in the newsjournal’s history. Parker, 49, has been pastor of First Baptist Church in Aztec, N.M., the past 10 years. He also will serve as the state Baptist convention’s director of media services, encompassing social media and video production. Parker holds a doctor of ministry degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California, a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas and an undergraduate degree in radio/television/film from the University of Texas. He was licensed to the ministry by Windsor Park Baptist Church in Austin in 1988 and ordained by First Baptist Church in San Angelo in 1992. He and his family moved to New Mexico in 2005 from Big Spring, where he had served as senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church.