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Religious Tolerance logo

American Baptist Churches in the USA and homosexuality

Resolutions, statements, & actions
about homosexuality: 1995 to now

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Sponsored link.

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Previous activity 1987 to 1994

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bullet1995-JUN The Columbus Baptist Association expelled the Granville Baptist Church in Granville, OH. It was a member of the AWAB.
bullet1995-NOV: Some members of the ABCUSA expressed concern that debates about the homosexual issue in the ABCUSA could eventually cause schism. The General Board created a Commission on Denominational Unity. Its purpose was "... to find ways to deal constructively with issues around which there has been considerable disagreement." The homosexual issue was specifically mentioned as one of the issues.
bullet The American Baptist Churches of the West conditionally expelled four California congregations: the New Community of Faith of San Franciso; the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church of Oakland; the First Baptist Church of Berkeley, and the San Leandro Community Church of San Leandro. They were all AWAB members.
bulletThe Commission on Human Sexuality Resources, created in 1992-JUN issued its "Final Report and Annotated Bibliography." They had received feedback from church organizations and membership that human sexuality should be studied from a strong biblical and theological grounding. Equal rights for homosexuals was not identified as a priority concern.
bullet1996-OCT The Alaska Association of Baptist Churches and Institutions considered expelling the Church of the Covenant in Palmer, AK. At the AABCI's annual meeting, Rev. Evan Jones of Fairbanks:

"admonished the Church of the Covenant to accept the stand of the General Board of American Baptist Churches/USA and the Alaska Association of Baptist Churches and Institutions, and if they choose not to accept this standard, that they clearly identify their views and actions as their own as opposed to the stand of American Baptist Churches/USA and the Alaska Association of Baptist Churches and Institutions."

bullet1996-JUN: The ABCUSA voted by close margins to expel the four California churches which had been conditionally disfellowshipped in 1996-JAN.
bullet1996-AUG: The Ministers Council of the American Baptist Churches USA sponsored a dialog on homosexuality between theologians Dr. Manfred Brauch and Dr. William Herzog. Each interpreted the anti-gay "clobber" passages in the Bible very differently. A video tape of the dialogue was made available.
bullet1998-JUN: The General Board adopted recommendations from the Commission on Denominational Unity's report:
bulletThat the 1992 "Resolution on Homosexuality" represents the current beliefs of the membership.
bulletThat the 1993 "American Baptist Resolution Calling for Dialogue on Issues of Human Sexuality is still valid.
bulletThat a church dismissed by a region can appeal the decision to the General Board, but only "if it believes that it was denied due process."
bullet1999: Five congregations appealed their expulsions from their regions to the General Board. The First Baptist Church of Granville, OH, was allowed to remain a Cooperating Church of ABCUSA, but remained expelled from their region. The appeals of four congregations in California: First Baptist Church, Berkeley; Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland; New Community of Faith, San Jose; and San Leandro Community Church, San Leandro were all denied. The four congregations remained expelled. 1
bullet2003-AUG: The General Board of the ABCUSA approved the establishment of a new regional association, the Evergreen Baptist Association located in Kent, WA. The Association was formed by progressive congregations who welcome and accept homosexuals. They had felt ostracized by the more conservative American Baptist Churches of the Northwest. 5
bullet2003-SEP-20: According to the Christian Century magazine, about a dozen ABC regions have some congregations that affirm and accept homosexuals.
bullet2004-JUN-15: The ABCUSA and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) had both been long-time members of the worldwide Baptist World Alliance (BWA). At their 2004 annual meeting, the SBC messengers (delegates) voted overwhelmingly to separate from the BWA, effective 2004-OCT-01. The reason given was because of the BWA's increasingly liberal stance. A contributing factor was the BWA's refusal to deal with the partial acceptance of homosexuals by the ABCUSA. A second concern of the SBC was that some of the denominations in the BWA no longer believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. 4

Two years later, at the time of the split between the ABCUSA and its Pacific Southwest region, Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary said that the Southern Baptists could "no longer afford to be aligned in any way" with any group that condones the practice of homosexuality in churches. 4
bulletThe General Board voted:

"To amend the document entitled 'We Are American Baptists' by adding the following statement to the section 'A Biblical People: Who submit to the teaching of Scripture that God's design for sexual intimacy places it within the context of marriage between one man and one woman, and acknowledge that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Biblical teaching'." 1

bulletThe General Board voted to allow disfellowshipped congregations to affiliate with other regions of the ABCUSA. This provision enraged many religious conservatives because it allowed inclusive welcoming congregations to remain within the denomination instead of being totally expelled. 2
bulletThe Governing Board of the ABCUSA's Ministers' Council  rejected a proposal that would have required a loyalty oath. Ministers would have had to confirm that they believed that sexual intimacy is only permissible in a legal marriage of one man and one woman. 2
bulletThe 300 churches of the American Baptist Churches Pacific Southwest region (ABCPSW) decided in principle to separate from the ABCUSA. 3 More information
bullet2006-MAY-11: The ABCPSW region formally separated from the parent denomination. More information

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Responses/actions pertaining to homosexuality," ABCUSA, at: http://www.abc-usa.org/ This is a PDF file.
  2. Robert Marus, "American Baptist region withdraws, may trigger split in denomination," 2005-SEP-13, Associated Baptist Press, at: http://www.abpnews.com/
  3. Gregory Tomlin, "Split among American Baptists over homosexuality is final," Baptist Press, 2006-MAY-18, at: http://www.bpnews.net/
  4. Don Hinkle, "SBC severs ties with BWA as theological concerns remain," Southern Baptist Convention, 2004-JUN-15, at: http://www.sbcannualmeeting.net
  5. "American Baptist Churches in the USA's governing board has approved the creation of a regional association designed for gay-friendly churches," Christian Century, 2003-AUG-09, at: http://findarticles.com/

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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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