Churches break with N.C. convention over homosexuality

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP)--At least five churches are publicly at odds with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina over the issue of homosexuality after messengers to last fall’s annual meeting voted by nearly a three-fourths margin to change the convention’s articles of incorporation regarding membership.

The original BSCNC membership article stated, “A cooperating church shall be one that financially supports any program, institution, or agency of the Convention, and which is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work.”

The addition to the article states, “Among churches not in friendly cooperation with the Convention are churches which knowingly act to affirm, approve, endorse, promote, support or bless homosexual behavior. The Board of Directors shall apply this provision. A church has a right to appeal any adverse action taken by the Board of Directors.”

Deacons from Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte sent a letter to the state convention Feb. 6 volunteering that the church is in violation of the convention’s stance against homosexuality, according to a report by the Biblical Recorder newsjournal.

According to convention policy, two formal complaints against a church must surface before an investigation is opened.

“The purpose of this letter is to inform you there is no need to wait upon the secret reports of others,” the deacons wrote. “We, with our 1,850 members serving as witnesses, hereby turn ourselves in.”

In addition to its affiliation with the North Carolina convention, Myers Park is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., and the Alliance of Baptists, which has adopted a statement in favor of “gay marriage.”

The deacons noted that the church’s covenant states that, as a “community of the new creation,” we are “open to all and closed to none. This includes a welcome to gay and lesbian persons who wish to follow Christ with us here.”

Norman Jameson, executive leader of the Baptist State Convention’s public relations and resource development department, told Baptist Press Feb. 27 that there is no update thus far on any convention action on the Myers Park matter.

Meanwhile, two other Charlotte churches have left the Baptist State Convention recently, bringing to five the total number of churches that have broken ties with the convention since last fall’s annual meeting.

St. John’s Baptist Church and Park Road Baptist Church were jointly affiliated with the North Carolina convention and the Alliance of Baptists. The convention’s board of directors said that under the amendment to the articles of incorporation, any church that affiliates with groups that support homosexuality can be removed, the Biblical Recorder reported.

“We have not changed our mission,” St. John’s said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the [Baptist State Convention] has changed its mission and has chosen to narrow its membership to exclude churches and institutions that do not adhere to its exclusive and discriminatory view of who is welcome in its fellowship.”

Members at Park Road voted unanimously to leave the state convention, the church’s pastor told the Biblical Recorder.

“Even for our more conservative members, the distance to which the convention was willing to go to supersede the autonomy of the local church was the final straw,” Russ Dean said, adding that he hopes the church’s withdrawal from the Baptist State Convention will cause the church to become more connected with the Alliance of Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Compiled by Erin Roach.

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