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American Baptist Churches in the USA and homosexuality

Resolutions, statements, & actions
about homosexuality: 1987 to 1994

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Resolutions, statements & actions:

bullet 1987-JUN: "Homosexuality" a Statement of Concern was rejected at the ABCUSA's Biennial Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA by a close vote of 408 to 471 with 71 abstentions. The document said that: "Scriptures repeatedly depict homosexuality as a social and moral evil." It called for for ministry "to those even within the church who are struggling with homosexual impulses." It concluded that "the unrepentant homosexual has no claim to full acceptance in the Christian community." Their statement does not differentiate between persons with a homosexual orientation who are sexually active and those who are celibate.
bullet 1989-JUN: The General Board unanimously affirmed a "Resolution against Manifestations of Prejudice." It indicated:

"...our opposition to manifestations of prejudices against persons because of their ethnic origin or race and persons because of their religion or sexual orientation regardless of our approval or disapproval of that orientation." 1

bullet 1991-JUN At their Biennial meeting in Charleston WV, the delegates approved (1,124 to 539; 46 abstentions) an anti-gay Statement of Concern. It:
bullet Rejected "the homosexual lifestyle, homosexual marriage, ordination of homosexual clergy or establishment of 'gay churches' or 'gay caucuses'."
bullet Affirmed "that the church should love and minister to the homosexual, but condemn the sin of the practice of homosexuality."

Their statement is unclear on whether ordination of only sexually active homosexuals is rejected, or whether ordination is banned for all persons with a homosexual orientation 

They also more narrowly passed (927 to 877; 38 abstentions) a resolution asking for a study on human sexuality. A Statement of Concern was passed:

"We therefore call on the General Board of American Baptist Churches to appoint a task force which would begin a study process on the local levels (i.e., regions, associations and churches) for the purpose of providing material which can guide us in our personal and collective thinking and spiritual development of a Christian perspective on sexuality."

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bullet 1992-JAN Nadean Bishop became the first openly lesbian person to be called to an ABCUSA congregation. It was at the University Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN.
bullet 1992-MAR The first ABCUSA church voted to bless the unions of same sex committed couples. It was the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.
bullet 1992-JUN An anti-gay resolution titled "Homosexuality and the Church" was proposed by the West Virginia Convention. It was narrowly defeated by the General Board (88 to 91; 2 abstentions). The defeated resolution noted:

"... pressure by some to gain acceptance within our denomination of both the practice of homosexuality…and the ordination to the Christian ministry of avowed practicing homosexuals"

The resolution identified God’s plan:

"... for the fulfillment of sexual union…to be one man and one woman in ... heterosexual, monogamous and lifelong ... marriage."

It stated that sexually active homosexuals had access to:

"... the redeeming love of Christ as it is [available] to all who turn to him in faith and repentance."

By rejecting the motion, the ABCUSA upheld the Baptist traditions of soul liberty of its members and local church autonomy.

The General Board also established a Commission on Human Sexuality Resources to identify "issues of concern" and to list resources for use by congregations.

bullet 1992-OCT The first mail ballot of in the congregation's history was conducted among churches' board members. They approved an anti-gay "Resolution on Homosexuality" that states: "We affirm that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching". This statement was later passed by the General Board.
bullet 1993 The Commission on Human Sexuality Resources determined that "congregations did not identify homosexuality as a priority concern." 2
bullet 1993-JUN: The General Board passed a resolution titled: "American Baptist Resolution Calling for Dialogue on Human Sexuality" by a vote of 96 to 69 with 3 abstentions. It:
bullet Noted that "that there exists a variety of understandings throughout our denomination on issues of human sexuality such as homosexuality."
bullet Encouraged "dialogue concerning these issues."
bullet Urged the membership to "seek unity and avoid divisiveness" during the dialogue
bullet 1994-MAR Dr. Mark Crosby was denied ecclesiastical endorsement by the Committee on Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counselors. He is openly gay.
bullet 1994-AUG The Columbus Baptist Association began the disfellowshipping process against the First Baptist Church of Granville, OH. It was a AWAB congregation.
bullet 1994-SEP The American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest revoked the ordination of Susan Vanderburgh She is a lesbian.
bullet 1994-DEC The Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church recommended the ordination of Randle Mixon. The American Baptist Churches of the West did not affirm the recommendation. He is openly gay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Responses/actions pertaining to homosexuality," ABCUSA, at: This is a PDF file.
  2. The Commission on Human Sexuality Resources of American Baptist Churches USA has a list of "Resources of American Baptist Churches USA" at:  Many of the resources contain sections on homosexuality.

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Home > Conflict > HomosexualityReligious groups > Christian > ABC > here

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Copyright 1999 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1999-NOV-28.
Latest update: 2008-JAN-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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