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Broadway Baptist skips BGCT for the ‘best interests’ of all

Broadway Baptist Church, foregoing conflict and asserting its Baptist autonomy, sent no messengers to the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting.

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Messengers are delegates, and had it sent any to the Nov. 16-17 meeting in Houston, the church’s approach to homosexual members would almost inevitably have resulted in debate over whether to seat its messengers. BGCT policy on homosexual behavior clearly calls it “sin” and “not normal or acceptable in God’s sight.” The BGCT has a history of enforcing that policy. In 1998 the BGCT disfellowshipped University Baptist Church of Austin for ordinaining a gay man deacon.

Broadway was found not in friendly cooperation (effectively expelled) by the Southern Baptist Convention in June, ending a 127-year relationship, because the SBC constitution prohibits any action “to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior.”

According to Ken Camp of the Associated Baptist Press, the church’s statement said:

We understand that there is a small group who plan to attempt to create discord within the BGCT by challenging the seating of Broadway’s messengers. While we have taken no action that would justify having our messengers not seated at the convention, we have decided that not sending messengers this year is in the best interests of both our church and the BGCT.
. . .
We believe it would be a terrible mistake for the BGCT to start down the path of investigating individual congregations and strongly assert the Baptist principle of the autonomy of the local church. We at Broadway are remaining focused, as always, on the worship of God, spiritual growth, showing hospitality to all in Jesus’ name and ministering to those in need.

The transition has been a painful one for members of the church, well-expressed in Lyn Robbins blog after the SBC decision.

The history of University Baptist Church suggests the path can be a complex one. In that regard, the church’s history says:

American_Baptist_Churches_LogoDuring the decade of the ’90s, UBC became affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the American Baptist Churches of the USA. In the fall of 1995, the Austin Baptist Association again expelled UBC, this time for ordaining a gay man as a deacon in 1994. In the fall of 1997 the church voted to disaffiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention because of ramifications of the fundamentalist takeover of that organization. UBC’s welcoming of homosexuals led, in February of 1998, to the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ action to stop receiving mission funds from UBC and to request that the church remove mention of its affiliation with the BGCT from its publicity. In 2001 the church disaffiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship after that organization had taken an official position not to expend funds for organizations or causes that condoned or affirmed homosexual practices. UBC’s acceptance of homosexuals in the worship, work, and fellowship of the church has cost additional members but has also attracted others to take a stand with the congregation by becoming members. The church’s primary denominational affiliation is now with the American Baptist Churches of the USA.

Broadway says clearly it has elected to continue the journey to which the congregation feels called. The decision about where that leads next with regard to BGCT has not been made:

We ended up with two choices, I think: agree to the compromise— which involved being studied by the BGCT Executive Board—or not send messengers. To not go stops a vote, doesn’t force us into this compromise, and gives us the time and freedom to decide where we go from here with the BGCT.


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November 16, 2009 - Posted by | Religion, SBC | , , , , ,

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