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