HENDERSONVILLE — Providence Baptist Church in Hendersonville
has called Julie Merritt Lee as pastor, succeeding its first pastor Gail
Coulter, also female.
Many female ministers run into what they term a
“stained-glass ceiling” that blocks them from achieving the role of senior
Coulter was assistant pastor at First Baptist Church in
Asheville before becoming Providence’s first pastor in 2002. Providence sought
membership in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), but
determined to affiliate nationally with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
(CBF) instead of the Southern Baptist Convention.
That decision, coupled with calling a female pastor,
prompted two Baptist associations to refuse to accept the church, making it
ineligible to receive church-starting funds from the state convention.
The CBF-NC and five CBF-related churches sponsored the new
No record of contribution to the work of the BSC has been
recorded from Providence since at least 2005, according to BSC offices.
Lee, a 2005 graduate of Baylor University’s George W. Truett
Theological Seminary, currently is a pastoral resident at Wilshire Baptist
Church in Dallas.
George Mason, Wilshire’s senior pastor, said Providence
Baptist Church is making a good choice.
“Julie is a gifted and capable pastor,” Mason said. “Whether
preaching, teaching, counseling, leading worship, raising and managing a
budget, or casting a vision for the church, Julie knows the work and is ready
for the challenge. Our church heartily acknowledges and recommends her pastoral
gifts and graces.”