The Baptist State Convention
of North Carolina and homosexuality
During the summer of 2005, the Committee on
Nominations of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina rejected
individuals who had been nominated to the board of trustees of the Convention's
Mars Hill College. The reason was that nominees had been selected by churches
who were affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists who, in turn, promote
equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Jeff Long, committee chairman and pastor of Parkwood Baptist Church
in Gastonia, NC said that they were following a 1992 state convention policy
which decided that the convention would not
accept donations from churches that "endorsed homosexuality." He said:
"That's the precedent we worked from -- that if we weren't going to receive
funds from a church that publicly endorsed homosexuality, then how, therefore,
could we allow a nominee from a church that publicly endorsed homosexuality?"
The Alliance of Baptists is a progressive Christian denomination consisting of over 120
congregations, most of which were once members of the Southern Baptist Convention.
They left the Convention after fundamentalists won a bitter, decades-long conflict between
mainline and fundamentalist believers.
In rejecting the nominees, the Convention violated two foundational Baptist
principles: freedom of religion of the individuals and of congregations.
Bill Sanderson, pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, NC, and
president of Conservative Carolina Baptists, is expected to propose a motion
to be debated at the Convention's annual meeting on 2005-NOV-14 to 16 in
Winston-Salem, NC. It would
amend the convention's articles of incorporation to expel congregations that either:
Approve of equal rights for persons of all
sexual orientations or
Are affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists or other groups that approve homosexuality.
David Horton, President of the Convention and pastor
of Gate City Baptist Church in Jamestown, NC said that the motion:
<"...would bring a great deal of clarity to the
stance of the convention....The Alliance of Baptists has made statements that do endorse the
homosexual lifestyle.... We just feel that is out of step with the Bible and
certainly out of step with what North Carolina Baptists believe on that issue."
Bill Sanderson said his motion is not saying that "we
don't love the homosexual....We do -- but we don't love the sin. And that's true of all of
His motion would amend the articles of incorporation to read:
"Among churches not in friendly cooperation with the Convention are churches
which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior. Such actions
1) official public statements affirming, approving or endorsing
2) ordination of those whom the church knows have not
repented of their homosexual behavior,
3) any pastor of the church performing or
the church providing facilities for a marriage or other ceremony, blessing or
union of persons of the same sex,
4) affiliating with, contributing money to or
maintaining membership in a group which the church knows affirms, approves or
endorses homosexual behavior, and
5) accepting as members those whom the church
knows have refused to repent of sin, including homosexual behavior."
"The Board of
Directors shall apply these provisions, subject to the right of a church to
appeal to the next session of the Convention."
The committee unknowingly approved two nominees who
are affiliated with congregations which are affiliated with the Alliance of
Baptists. It was "too late in the process" to ban them. Their status
has yet to be determined.
On 2006-NOV-14, 2600 messengers (delegates) to the state Baptist Convention
met in Greensboro NC. They voted to intensify its fight against the culture's
apparent gradual acceptance of homosexuality by establishing a system to expel
any of its churches that "affirm," "approve," or "bless" same-sex relationships.
The measure could exclude a congregation for merely adding openly gay members to
their rolls. There are believed to be as many as 12 Baptist congregations in the
state that actively welcome gays at worship.
Mark Harris, who headed of the committee that introduced the anti-gay
measure, said that: "In our day and time, no other sin marches so defiantly
across our national landscape."
Hundreds of messengers objected to the measure. Some were worried that
individual congregations will now spy and report on each other. Others were
concerned about the loss of local church autonomy -- a many centuries-old
defining tradition within the Baptist movement. Others felt that the measure
reflected an unfounded obsession with homosexuality.
Nathan Parrish, from Winston-Salem, NC, said:
"It seems so contrary, at least to me, to the picture and posture of
Jesus in the gospels. Jesus' life and ministry were marked by radical
hospitality, openness, vulnerability, humility. By contrast, the Baptist
State Convention is recommending that we . . . magnify the message that
certain types of people, as well as their friends and perhaps their fellow
believers and family members, are neither welcome nor worthy of a place at
the table of this community."
Andrew Wakefield, professor of biblical studies at Campbell University, in
Buies Creek, NC said: "This issue has emerged as a litmus test." 2
Michael Foust, "Churches endorsing homosexuality could be excluded in
N.C.," Baptist Press, 2005-NOV-11, at: