The Associated Press reports on items of controversy facing Southern Baptists at the Executive Committee meeting next week. Among other things, the report states:
On the agenda [is] a recommendation that a church in Kennesaw, Georgia, be ousted from the SBC because it accepted LGBTQ people into its congregation, contravening Southern Baptist doctrine…
Jim Conrad, the pastor of Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw, said he’s at peace with the likelihood that his church will be “disfellowshipped” by the executive committee during its meeting Monday and Tuesday.
But Conrad sees broader challenges for the SBC as its stances on various sensitive issues are questioned from inside and outside.
“The problem the SBC is facing right now is this: In order to work with them, you’ve got to be in lockstep agreement with them on every point. Nine out of 10 won’t get you by,” Conrad said. “That’s just a shame. They’re going to limit themselves in terms of who’s able to work them”…
Towne View began welcoming LGBTQ worshippers in October 2019 after a same-sex couple with three adopted children asked Conrad if they could attend, a decision he defends as the right thing to do.
“The alternative would have been to say, ‘We’re probably not ready for this,’ but I couldn’t do that,” said Conrad, pastor there since 1994.
This AP report is not altogether clear on the true nature of the conflict. The last two sentences above imply that the SBC is planning to sanction the church simply for letting gay people attend their services. That is actually not the issue at all. The vast majority of Southern Baptist churches welcome all kinds of sinners to attend their services, and this certainly includes gay sinners.
The issue in this case is not merely attendance but membership. The SBC’s problem is with the fact that this church is now accepting practicing gays as members of the church—which in our context means affirming sexual immorality as compatible with following Christ. This is in direct contradiction to our denomination’s statement of faith, which labels homosexuality as a sin.
The church’s commitment to this false teaching comes out clearly in local reporting on the church. CBS Atlanta includes telling remarks from the pastor of the church (see video above or read below):
“When a young man said, in my office, that he and his partner and their three boys were relocating to the area on a career move and he asked me for the first time in my ministry as a Pastor ‘would my family be welcome in your church;’ I had to pause because I had never been asked that question before, and I had been taught as a Southern Baptist my whole life, and I said ‘yes.’ You never tell someone ‘no, you’re not welcome,'” Conrad said…
“These are folks who love Jesus and they want to serve Jesus. They just happen to be gay or lesbian or transgender and we want them to know there’s a place here where we’ll love Jesus and we’ll serve Jesus together,” Conrad said. “We wish the folks at the SBC well; we hold no ill will towards them, but we’re ready to move and see what God’s future for our church is going to be.”
The pastor’s words are damning. This is clearly about membership, and the pastor’s words confirm that he himself is leading the church to accept homosexuality as compatible with following Christ.
My prediction is that this item of business will not see very much controversy at the Executive Committee meeting next week. The EC will vote unanimously to disfellowship the church. Moreover if these facts bear out and the church appeals to the convention this summer, Southern Baptists will vote overwhelmingly to remove the church from fellowship. There will be little to no controversy among Southern Baptists over this, contrary to what the AP claims.
I’m certain there will be controversy at our convention next summer, but it won’t be over this.