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N.C. Baptists Will Be Asked to Vote on Stricter Homosexuality Policy

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    N.C. Baptists Will Be Asked to Vote on Stricter Homosexuality Policy By Steve DeVane Associated Baptist Press WAKE FOREST, N.C. (ABP) -- Baptists in North
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 22, 2005
      N.C. Baptists Will Be Asked to Vote on Stricter Homosexuality Policy
      By Steve DeVane
      Associated Baptist Press

      WAKE FOREST, N.C. (ABP) -- Baptists in North Carolina next month will
      be asked to place new restrictions on churches that condone
      homosexuality, creating perhaps the most specific ban of gay-friendly
      churches in Southern Baptist life.

      The president of a conservative group within the Baptist State
      Convention of North Carolina said Oct. 18 he will propose an amendment
      to the convention's articles of incorporation that would tighten
      requirements for church membership in the state convention to
      eliminate "ambiguity" on the gay issue.

      The article dealing with membership in the convention currently says:
      "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."

      Bill Sanderson, president of Conservative Carolina Baptists and pastor
      of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, N.C., said he will propose
      adding the following:

      "Among churches not in friendly cooperation with the convention are
      churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.
      Such actions include: 1) official public statements affirming,
      approving or endorsing homosexual behavior, 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."

      Sanderson said he thinks there should be "no ambiguity" about where
      the convention stands on the homosexual issue. "We need, I feel, to
      set a very clear statement about how we as Baptists in North Carolina
      feel about this," he said.

      The first sentence of Sanderson's proposal is identical to wording
      added to the constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1993.
      Four of the provisions seem to deal with specific instances in which
      churches in North Carolina have been removed from the convention under
      a policy not in the convention articles of incorporation.

      In 1992, the convention Board of Directors (then General Board)
      adopted a financial policy that prohibits the convention from
      accepting funds from "any church which knowingly takes, or has taken,
      any official action which manifests public approval, promotion or
      blessing of homosexuality."

      Since churches must give funds to the convention to be a cooperating
      member, the policy effectively kept out such churches. The policy,
      which was reaffirmed by the convention board in 2003, was first used
      to remove Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh and Binkley
      Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill from the convention. Pullen had
      voted to bless the union of two homosexual males. Binkley voted to
      license a gay man to the ministry.

      The policy was later used to force out Wake Forest Baptist Church in
      Winston-Salem, which held a same-sex union for two lesbian members in
      September 2000.

      Two years ago, the convention used the policy to refuse funds from
      McGill Baptist Church in Concord. Convention officials said the church
      fell under the policy because it baptized two men believed to be gay.

      The homosexuality issue came under discussion again this year when the
      convention's nominating committee voted to exclude from consideration
      persons from churches that are affiliated with the Alliance of
      Baptists. The organization's web site includes a statement affirming
      same-sex marriage, which was adopted during the organization's annual
      meeting in 2004, as well as the report of a task force on human
      sexuality that was commissioned and received "with gratitude" --
      though not officially adopted -- in 1995. That report calls for full
      acceptance of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered persons.

      Sanderson said those earlier expulsions prompted his proposal. "It's
      all about that, so when these things happen we already know where
      we're standing," he said.

      Sanderson said he thinks churches that affirm homosexuality should not
      be in the convention. "This brings it down without any problem
      whatsoever," he said. "You know if you're on this side of this
      theological issue, you're on the wrong side."

      Sanderson said he included in his proposal a general reference to sin
      so the provision could be applied to people who have not repented of
      lying, backbiting, adultery, murder or other sins.

      Clella Lee, chair of the convention's constitution and bylaws
      committee, said a motion similar to Sanderson's was proposed to the
      committee.

      "The committee did not believe it was in the best interest of the
      convention to recommend a change in the definition of a cooperating
      church to the Executive Committee without the time to consider
      historical precedence, present concerns, and future long-term
      implications," she said. "I believe it is unlikely that such in-depth
      consideration could be accomplished during the convention session. My
      hope is that the convention messengers will recognize the magnitude of
      amending this article without giving careful consideration to each of
      the areas I mentioned.

      "If the convention wants to consider changing the definition of a
      cooperating church, I strongly encourage the messengers to make a
      motion to that effect and refer it to the constitution and bylaws
      committee or a special committee formed to study this issue and report
      to the convention in 2006."

      The convention articles of incorporation can be amended by a
      two-thirds vote of messengers to the convention annual meeting
      provided the proposed amendments are printed twice in the Biblical
      Recorder, the convention's newspaper.

      -30-
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