SBC Executive Committee proposes ouster of church over homosexuality

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Baptist Believer, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. Baptist Believer

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    SBC Executive Committee proposes ouster of church over homosexuality

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ABP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee is recommending that the denomination sever ties with a prominent Texas church over homosexuality.

    If messengers to the convention's annual meeting, set for June 23-24 in Louisville, Ky., agree to the recommendation on Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, it will be the first time the SBC has ejected a church simply because denominational officials perceive that the congregation is in violation of a policy prohibiting affiliation with pro-gay churches.

    At last year's SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis, Bill Sanderson, pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, N.C., made a motion to declare Broadway not "in friendly cooperation" with the convention -- the SBC's constitutional language describing affiliation.

    A work group of the Executive Committee met with church leaders Feb. 17 and asked for more information to clarify whether the church complies with an article in the SBC constitution banning churches that "act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior."

    In late 2007 and early 2008, Broadway was embroiled in a controversy over whether to include photos of gay couples who are church members alongside other family portraits in a new church directory. The congregation eventually reached a compromise, agreeing not to family-by-family photos, but rather group and candid shots of all church members.

    The controversy -- and others involving the leadership of then-pastor Brett Younger -- were highly publicized by bloggers as well as local and national media outlets. Sanderson made his motion for Broadway's ouster several months after the compromise vote.

    Meeting on the eve of this year's convention, the full Executive Committee voted unanimously and without discussion to report to messengers June 23 that the church failed to "establish its compliance" with the membership requirement.

    The committee recommended "that the cooperative relationship between the Convention and church cease, and that the church's messengers not be seated, until such time as the church unambiguously demonstrates its friendly cooperation with the convention" under the constitution's article on membership.

    August Boto, the Executive Committee's executive vice president and general counsel, sent an April 21 letter to Broadway officials. It said members of the committee had received information from people with firsthand knowledge of the church showing "rather pointedly that there is a clear divergence between the prevalent views of the Convention on the topic and those of your church."

    Boto said the church needed to respond to a series of questions about the church's stance on homosexuality in order to "protect the reputation of the Convention."


    Click here to read the rest of the article

    Hmm... I'm no fan of Broadway Baptist Church (I've visited there on a number of occasions and know a few of the members), but this recommendation completely violates the autonomy of the local church.

    To my knowledge, the membership of Broadway has never taken a stand affirming inappropriate sexual relations (including homosexual ones) and there is a significant number (possibly even a majority) that believe homosexual sexual relations are sinful.

    I find it particularly galling for August Boto to claim the action is necessary to "protect the reputation of the Convention" when the SBC cites the autonomy of the local church in order to deflect responsibility to set up strong safeguards against ministers who are sexual predators. In my opinion, Baptists have at least as much of a problem as the Roman Catholics, yet we refuse to be accountable.

    For example, there's a music minister serving in Southeast Texas that is publicly known (it's on video and has been through the legal system) to have practiced predatory behavior toward a woman. He was dismissed from a Baptist General Convention of Texas church for his documented actions, was graciously sent to counseling (paid for by the church where he abused his position) and asked to leave the ministry. A few months later he was hired by a Southern Baptists of Texas church 10 miles down the road (the Southern Baptists of Texas congregations allegedly "believe the Bible" like the current SBC leadership). His new congregation has documentation of his issues, yet they gladly have him serve in a position of trust and leadership!

    I guess I need to add that I actually grew up in the same church with this minister, know him, his parents and his brother and sister, and was in their home growing up. I also know, and am in contact, with his first wife. (All of us grew up together.) I also heard rumors (about 30 years ago) that he was making the same moves on teen girls as is described in the newspaper accounts, including the older teen sister of a good friend, resulting in a severe beat-down by her brother. I didn't know whether to believe it then, but the accusations seem to be very consistent.

    Documentation from the local newspaper:

    (WARNING: The description of his actions are explicit)

    The Examiner - June 9, 2005 - Page 1

    The Examiner - June 9, 2005 - Page 1

    The Examiner – July 21, 2005

    The Examiner – December 30, 2005 - Page 1

    The Examiner – December 30, 2005 - Page 2

    So tell me why should Broadway get booted for allowing sinners in the congregation when another Baptist church knowingly has a sexual predator in leadership?
     
    #1 Baptist Believer, Jun 22, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
  2. preachinjesus

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    Well I think we've identified the "third rail of SBC politics."

    Homosexuality is that third rail. Patterson used it in his ouster of the WBA. If you oppose the esconed fundamentalist leadership you're a homosexual rights advocate.

    Is what it is...they've been looking for ways of getting rid of Broadway for awhile.
     
  3. Baptist Believer

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    I hate to admit it, but I think you're right. This is just a smokescreen for the real issue - Broadway does not affirm Paige Patterson's way of doing things.

    I wish they would just publicly admit that instead of violating the autonomy of the local church by trying to cajole compliance to their agenda.

    I guess if you parrot the party line, you can get away with just about anything and still be a Southern Baptist.
     
  4. Pastor Larry

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    I have nothing to do with the SBC, but this has nothing to do with autonomy. The denomination can associate with whomever they want to. If they don't want to associate with a church, then they don't have to. Disagree if you wish, but don't say it is violating autonomy. They aren't telling the church what to do.
     
  5. Baptist Believer

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    They are using intimidation to enforce compliance. They know that Broadway will have to either lose two members (one of which is the music minister) or those members will lose their jobs as a result of the decision (if it is affirmed) because of the policy that seminary professors must be members of Southern Baptist churches.

    It's a real issue since my church (and church members and potential church members) have been regularly and explicitly threatened by Southwestern seminary presidents.
     
  6. preachinjesus

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    Might I suggest the plural of presidents is perhaps a bit too generous. I would say president. Patterson has made outwardly hostile towards them.

    Hemphill was a good president. He tried to build bridges. Patterson is a theological thug. He's only happy with compliance.

    I enjoyed attending Broadway for special events while in seminary (I had many friends in musical ensembles.) I love the church. I also enjoyed many of the people I encountered. These are good people. Say what you want but they are people who are good, earnest people. Their leadership might be pushing back, but I enjoyed meeting the people.
     
  7. Baptist Believer

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    Yes, Patterson has been hostile.

    Actually, I was thinking more of Hemphill when I wrote that. Hemphill personally confronted a number of professors who were members of our church and told them to "join another church". He specifically told me (when I was a student) that I needed to attend another church. And I heard stories from other seminary students that he warned people away from our congregation and Broadway Baptist, telling them that we "didn't believe the Bible".

    So I have to disagree about Hemphill. He was more personable and a smoother politician, but he didn't mind telling unsubstantiated stories or trying to exercise power over others.

    You know him better than I do. The last time I had dealings with him was back in 1987 when he was soliciting accusations of liberalism from students against college and seminary professors.

    I don't have gripes with most of the people, but I think they've had some poor leadership over the last decade.
     
    #7 Baptist Believer, Jun 22, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
  8. SaggyWoman

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    In the past, there have been a lot of seminary professors attending Broadway.


    Back when I was I was in Fort Worth I attended a few services at Broadway, usually at the request of a professor. Very liturgical service. It's okay, but not my frame of reference.
     
    #8 SaggyWoman, Jun 22, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2009
  9. Pastor Larry

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    Then be strong enough to resist if you don't want to. They can't force you to do anything unless you have a weak pastor and a weak congregation.

    But again, if you don't like it, resist. There is always a price to pay for doing what you think is right. If you think it's right, then do it, and don't complain about the fallout. That's why the SBC is political. You guys let it be political.

    Be a church, not a pawn of the denomination, if that's what you want to be. This is about weak leadership at the church level, it sounds to me. The church may well be in the wrong, and it certainly sounds they have not been forthcoming (and again I speak as one outside the SBC who could not care less about what happens). But you can't complain about denominational politics and then play the political game. There's a price to pay for doing what you think it is right. And you have to be willing to sink the ship over it.
     
  10. Salty

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    Our local association withdrew fellowship from a SBC church. No, we did not interfere with their autonomy. The church chose to ignore a major problem by the pastor. They are still a church, just not part of the CNYBA.

    Likewise, a church can withdraw fellowship from a member - and they should if need be :tear:
     
  11. Tom Butler

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    I don't see anywhere where Broadway church denied that it welcomed and affirmed homosexuals--both as members and as member couples.

    Even so, putting pictures of gay couples in the church directory was apparently too much affirmation for a significant number of members.

    I guess my question is, should any congregation be allowed to condone any aberrant lifestyle without condemnation by other churches in cooperation with it, in the name of autonomy?

    Baptist Believer points out some apparent inconsistencies by the SBC, in condemning Broadway Baptists for welcoming gays, but not disassociating from another church with a sexual predator as pastor.

    But I perceive some inconsistency on his part, as well, particularly in defending Broadway's autonomy, but not that of the church with the predator pastor. Is one sexual sin not quite as worthy of condemnation as another?
     
  12. donnA

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    It has nothing to do with autonomy.
    They withdrew fellowship from a church apparently support homosexuality, would that be by allowing unrepentant homosexual members? I don't know more.
    It seems to be popular now a days to allow unrepent openly sinful lifestyles in church membership.


    Thsi shows acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.
     
    #12 donnA, Jun 22, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2009
  13. Tom Butler

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    I wonder why it took an action by the SBC Executive Committee to bring this to a head. Since Broadway Baptist is at odds with the SBC's stated policy defining cooperation, why did it not just simply say "we're outa here." a long time ago.

    I've never understood why individual congregations can adopt all sorts of strange doctrines and practices, yet want to remain affiliated with a group with which it strongly disagrees.
     
  14. Allan

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    The finacial support they can get.
     
  15. donnA

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    what finacial support do they get from the SBC?
     
  16. Timsings

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    I have some knowledge of this situation because my parents were members of Broadway until they moved back to Nashville. I have worshiped there many times. We had a memorial service for my father at Broadway in May. Several members of the congregation are or used to be members of the faculty at Southwestern Seminary. Several of them helped with Dad's service.

    The issue was not raised by the church. It was raised by the gay members who wanted their pictures included in the "family" section of the directory. Apparently some members knew that these members were gay, but it was not public knowledge. It was not promoted nor was it affirmed. They were simply members who happened to be gay. The uproar that followed has cost Broadway about 300 members. Although the former pastor won a confidence vote by a substantial margin, he decided to leave anyway. The church is still trying to gather itself in order to move ahead with its ministry which is significant.

    Paige Patterson's role in this is to try to force the few remaining Southwestern faculty members at Broadway to make a choice between their job and their church. Patterson is making a power play, and at the moment he has the leverage to do it.

    If the SBC withdraws fellowship from Broadway, it will be the first time that they have ever done so to a church that wanted to remain in the SBC. There are some pastors of large churches on the Executive Committee. I have to wonder whether any of them have gays in their churches, and whether they know who they are. Do any of you here at the BB ask people seeking membership in your churches about their sexual orientation? I have never been in a church that did so, nor have I ever heard of a church that did. That leaves the possibility open for churches to vote in homosexual members without knowing about it. That is Broadway's situation. Can you say with confidence that your situation is different?

    As for Pastor Larry who said that Broadway should stand up to Patterson and the SBC without regard to consequences, I would like to ask about a church's obligation to its members. In the past, my church has had numerous employees of various SBC agencies in our membership. At the moment we have only about 5 or 6. Over they last few years we have had several calls for us to completely cut ties with the SBC. If we did, these members would have to move to other churches in order to continue their employment. We would be telling them that their membership and service to our congregation did not matter. It was more important for us to make a point to the SBC. Instead, we have maintained our affiliation with the SBC. Keeping these members is more important to us than making a point to the SBC. There is another Baptist church a few miles from us who made this kind of choice. They lost a couple of dozen members because of it. Some of them joined our church, and they have talked about how hurt they were by what they were forced to do. Patterson is putting Broadway in a similar situation.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  17. donnA

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    allowing members who happen to be gay is the church approving of homosexuality.
     
  18. sag38

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    Putting their pictures in the church directory obviously shows an affirmation of the homosexual lifestyle. I don't blame Dr. Patterson. And, how could these professors remain affliated with this church and maintain any type of credibility? And, why would any professing Christian who is employed by a SBC agency want to remain in a church that affirms homosexuality. To tell the truth, I don't want the money my church gives to the cooperative program to pay the salary of those who would willingly attend such a church.
     
  19. Jerome

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    On the other hand, those Yankee Baptists were wrong wrong wrong when they excluded us for our welcoming and affirming stance towards slaveholding.
     
  20. Revmitchell

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    The autonomy of the church is in no way compromised. The church can go on doing just as it pleases. It may have to do it without being associated with the convention. But let's be honest about the reason for this thread. If you go back and look it is not so much about Broadway but a liberal opportunity to bash Dr. Patterson. I mean if we want to get to the heart of the matter and all.
     

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