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Pat Robertson to ‘reaffirm’ ordination, but pastor says vows ‘no longer exist’

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (BP)–Religious broadcaster’s Pat Robertson plan to reaffirm the ordination he gave up when he ran for president in 1988 has drawn questions from the Southern Baptist pastor who ordained Robertson in 1960.

Robertson is the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Regent University. He is also host of the network’s flagship television program, “The 700 Club.”

Robertson was ordained in 1960 as a Southern Baptist minister by Freemason Street Baptist Church, Norfolk, Va. However, he asked that his ordination be terminated prior to his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988.

He will reaffirm those vows March 27 at Regent University, the evangelical Christian school he founded in Virginia Beach.

Donald J. Dunlap, pastor at Freemason Street when Robertson’s ordination was terminated, told the Associated Press the reaffirmation will have no standing — at least not within the Southern Baptist Convention.

“You cannot reaffirm what does not exist,” said Dunlap, now an interim pastor at Churchland Baptist Church, Chesapeake, Va. “His ordination was terminated at his insistence,” Dunlap told the AP. “If he’s trying to reaffirm what doesn’t exist, then it’s illegal by ecclesiastical policy, and more than that, it’s dishonest.”

Robertson, who has retained his membership at Freemason Street Baptist Church, is not being reordained in a denomination but will be a minister, according to a spokesperson for Regent University.

Robertson’s vows were terminated during a called business meeting at the church on Oct. 11, 1987, according to Steven Fitzgerald, the current pastor at Freemason Street.

Robertson’s upcoming ordination service, according to an article in Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot daily newspaper, will be conducted by an ordination council of six clergy. Among those listed as laying hands upon Robertson will be Thomas E. Trask, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God; Jack Hayford, founding pastor of the Church on the Way; and Vinson Synan, dean of the Regent divinity school.

Frank Hughes, pastor emeritus of South Norfolk Baptist Church, served on the ordination council, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

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  • Todd Starnes