Flap over gays in church directory festers

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--Members of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, voted Dec. 2 to delay a decision on whether to include homosexual members as couples in a church pictorial directory.

Baptist Press broke the story of the church contention on Nov. 6. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram said the church's deacons would recommend a solution to the issue by Feb. 4.

"We do not want to rush to make a decision, but rather to continue to listen to each other and for God's leading to our church," deacon chairman Kathy Madeja said in a statement. "Our members have diverse opinions about many things, but what we have in common is our love for God, the church and each other."

Pastor Brett Younger addressed the issue from the pulpit Dec. 2, according to sermon audio posted on the church website.

"Some of the most committed Christians in our congregation are baffled by this whole episode," Younger said. "They are seeking the best they know how to be faithful to Scripture and follow Jesus. They've been taught all of their lives what the Bible says on this issue, and those who read the Scripture in a different way don't seem to be taking the Bible seriously.

"The verses in Leviticus seem straightforward on homosexuality. How can the majority opinion throughout 2,000 years of church history suddenly be wrong? It's hard for these gracious Christians to understand how anyone could disagree.

"But there are other thoughtful Christians who feel differently," Younger continued. "They are seeking the best they know how to be faithful to Scripture and follow Jesus. They know the Bible has been used to defend polygamy, slavery and the oppression of women. We look at the compassion of Jesus and the way that He included everybody and it seems clear that we should do the same. How can anyone who knows Jesus believe God condemns people for the way they were born? It's hard for these gracious Christians to understand how anyone could disagree."

Inevitably, some church members would be disappointed, Younger said, but hope lies in Jesus and in realizing the battle belongs to God. In the end, God's people will "serve together in the unity of God's diversity," he said.

Younger closed by saying that someday "we will be set free to live with compassion and kindness" and "celebrate the truth that there is no one beyond the love of God, no one who is not a cherished child of God, no one for whom Jesus did not die, and no one who is not welcome at this table. We long for the day that God will make everything right."

The church is a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Baptist General Convention of Texas and Tarrant Baptist Association.

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Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN.

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