Dispute in Baptistland
January 25th, 2011
Earlier this month we reported that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary had booted the Tarrant Baptist Association from their space on campus due to the Association fellowshipping with Broadway Baptist Church, a congregation that does not reject gay worshipers. Now it seems that the Seminary didn’t exactly have that right; the Association holds deed to the property on which they reside. (Baptist Standard)
In 1982, the seminary provided Tarrant Baptist Association land and the funds to build its office building, granting a 99-year lease on the property, Meredith explained. At that time, the seminary and association entered into an affiliation agreement stipulating the property would not be used for commercial activity, and the association and seminary would commit to remaining in theological harmony, he said.
In 1997, the property agreement was renegotiated, and Tarrant Baptist Association received the deed to the property, he said. “The affiliation agreement remained intact,” Meredith added.
Further, it seems that the affiliation agreement has provisions for resolving dispute and the Seminary does not have unilateral determination. A three person panel is supposed to be assembled to mediate a resolution.
But, apparently believing that “but, but, but Teh Ghey!!” trumps all, the Seminary is insisting that the Association give them back the property and go away with their heads hung low in shame. The Association is taking a different position.
Tarrant Baptist Association’s executive board subsequently met a few days later and unanimously approved a motion asking the seminary either to purchase the property from the association at fair market value or submit the matter to a three-person arbitration panel.
It will be interesting to see how this is resolved.
Southern Baptists kick out group that tolerates Broadway Baptist
January 15th, 2011
Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, takes a bit of a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to its gay members. The church avoids taking theological positions on homosexuality – saying that they neither condemn nor condone it – and gay members are fairly open.
But the Southern Baptist Convention has no room for anyone who does not actively condemn gay people and seek to make their lives miserable. To be a Southern Baptist Church in good standing, it is not adequate to delegate such matters to individual conscience. Rather, opposition to homosexuality must take on the importance given to matters of faith such as the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, and redemption from sin.
So in 2009 Broadway Baptist Church was booted from the General Baptist Convention of Texas,
the a statewide affiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention. Baptist organization.
But it seems that the SBC is a lot like a sixth-grade girl who is seeking to control who is popular and who is not. Not only have they banished Broadway Baptist from the ‘cool kids’ clique, but they will kick out anyone who dares be their friend.
And the Tarrant Baptist Association, the Tarrant County group of Southern Baptists, dared to be friendly with Broadway Baptist. In fact, they allowed them to be part of the 395 churches that worked together in the county to provide support, outreach, and growth. How dare they?
So the Tarrant Baptist Association, in turn, was kicked off the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’m not kidding. The official county association of Southern Baptist Churches was booted from their office in the Southern Baptist seminary because they didn’t ostracize one church who wasn’t adequately anti-gay. (Christian Post)
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has asked an association of churches to leave its Fort Worth, Texas, campus because the seminary says the group has a member church or churches that tolerate homosexuality.
A 1997 affiliation agreement between Tarrant Baptist Association and the seminary for use of an office building on the campus requires that the two organizations remain in “theological harmony.”
The seminary, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, contends that the association has violated the agreement for retaining fellowship with a church or churches that don’t adhere to the denomination’s position that homosexuality is a sin.
From time to time some prominent Southern Baptist leader will rhetorically ponder, “Why do the homosexuals think we hate them? We don’t hate them, we love them and want them to live according to God’s Plan for their lives.”
Here is why we think you hate us. Because if one congregation is willing to let gay people even sit in the congregation, you kick them out of fellowship. Because if one collective of churches dares let such a congregation participate in ministry, you kick them out of fellowship.
We think you hate us because if you demonstrate rejection to a group whose only crime is to allow a member church whose only crime is allowing gay individuals to worship, then we KNOW that your animus, your contempt, your derision, and your rejection of gay individuals is of a level that if it is not truly hate then it is impossible to distinguish from it.
When Actions Speak Louder Than Words
June 25th, 2009
The Southern Baptist Convention has ousted Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas over the church’s acceptance of gays. Even though that church had sent their own gay-tolerant pastor packing over a controversy surrounding photos of same-sex couples in the church directory, it appears that what remained still wasn’t anti-gay enough to appease the powers that be.
Meanwhile, another Southern Baptist preacher, Rev. Wiley Drake of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, California, has been practicing “imprecatory prayer” for President Barack Obama’s death. Drake and his church remain in good standing.
Newsweek reports that for the fourth year in a row, Southern Baptist Churches baptized fewer people than they did in each prior year. This is taken as a key indicator of church growth — or decline, as the case may be. Two years ago, then-SBC president Frank Page blamed the decline on the perception that Baptists are “mean-spirited, hurtful and angry people.” This year’s theme for the Southern Baptist Convention is “Love Loud: Actions Speak Louder Than Words.” I have no further comment beyond that.
Broadway’s Pastor Calls It Quits
April 17th, 2008
Rev. Brett Younger, the gay-tolerant pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth has decided to give up his efforts to bring about unity and peace in his church.
After surviving months of bitter infighting over the philosophical direction of his church, the Rev. Brett Younger, senior pastor at Broadway Baptist Church, is stepping down to work on the faculty of a divinity school in Atlanta.
Younger, 47, is going to work at McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta. Members of the church leadership were told about his resignation earlier this week. His last day at Broadway Baptist will be June 8.
I’m saddened by his decision and hope that it does not encourage those at Broadway who were intolerant and unkind to feel justified in their behavior.
Broadway’s Anti-Gays Vote
March 10th, 2008
We have followed the story on Broadway Baptist in Fort Worth and their debate over whether to include gay people in their church directory. They decided to do away with the term “family” and allow individuals to have their pictures in “groups” instead. Sadly, this wasn’t enough of a rejection of gay families for some members.
But members were sharply divided last fall over whether gay couples should be pictured in the church’s 125th anniversary photo directory.
That fight led to a bigger one, over Dr. Younger. A group called Friends for the Future of Broadway accused him of ineffective leadership and of leading the church in too liberal a direction.
So they tried to oust the pastor. But the vote has been taken and the anti-gays just didn’t have enough votes.
The vote was 499 for retaining Brett Younger and 237 against, giving the pastor a two-thirds majority.
Let’s hope that their drama is over. We wish Pastor Younger continued support and we wish much healing for Broadway Baptist.
Broadway Baptist Finds a Happy Compromise
February 25th, 2008
The moderate church includes a number of gay members and seeks to be open to all who want to worship. But trouble arose when it came time to prepare a directory that included family pictures; two men showed up for their family shot.
Some of the more conservative members didn’t want gay couples listed as “family”. The men offered to have separate pictures taken.
But some of the more liberal members were angry that gay people were being disrespected and treated as second class members. What to do?
Well after several months, meetings, church discussions, “scholarly presentations and an in-depth look at the Scriptures”, and much anguished hand wringing, the church has found a compromise:
In a 294-182 vote, members approved a recommendation by the church’s board of deacons to publish a directory that would include member photos in “candid, small and large group pictures” but not include family portraits.
What an elegant solution. Now each group may seek to define for itself what members comprise their group (that isn’t a family, you know).
But regardless of the ridiculousness of renaming family as “a candid small or large group”, I believe that this process has been good for the church and for Christianity as a whole. As people struggle with the issue of including gay couples in communion, they have to deal with the realities of those people that they know and love. They can no longer pretend that their heterosexism is benign nor that passive anti-gay attitudes harm no one.
Church members voted after a sermon by Pastor Brett Younger in which he asked parishioners to look people in the eye and question what they see and how they react.
“If we look into the eyes of a gay Christian, we may have to rethink some of our opinions,” Mr. Younger said.
Very true, Pastor.
And give my regards to… um, your church.
Broadway Baptist Punts on Gay Members’ Photos
December 3rd, 2007
As we told you earlier, there is a debate at Fort Worth’s Broadway Baptist Church over whether the photos of gay members can be included in a church directory.
Broadway views itself as inclusive and no doubt cannot see the message that is inherent in, “If we put your picture in the directory, we are endorsing your sin”. Nor do we hear discussion about the double standard of excluding gay members but not excluding others for their sins or non-orthodox theology.
The church was scheduled to vote yesterday on a compromise – include gay people but only photograph them as individuals, not couples – but the Dallas News reports that the body could not come to conclusion.
Members were to vote Sunday after morning worship. But in a clear indication that they are divided over how accepting to be of homosexuality, they met for an hour and then postponed any decision until deacons make a recommendation on Feb. 24.
“We will continue to discuss this issue together as a church family,” Kathy Madeja, chair of the deacons, said in a prepared statement. “We do not want to rush to make a decision, but rather to continue to listen to each other and for God’s leading for our church.”
The pastor is offering another alternative which is to forgo members’ pictures altogether and focus instead on church ministries. Though I believe the pastor’s intentions are honorable, this option reminds me of those school districts that will ban all student groups in order to keep gay students from forming a support club. Sadly, too often excluding gay people becomes the highest priority and anti-gays are quick to restrict the privileges of all people to ensure that gay people cannot participate.
We’ll let you know what the church ultimately decides.
More Baptist Controversy
November 16th, 2007
Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX, is a moderately welcoming church. Although they have had gay members for many years, they seek to neither “endorse or condemn homosexuality.” This neutrality has served them well, allowing gay people to feel welcome but also allowing those Texas Baptists who’s religious convictions persuaded them of homosexuality’s sinfulness to join in worship without direct confrontation.
But sometimes confrontation comes unexpectedly, as it did for Broadway Baptist. The church decided to celebrate its 125th anniversary with a book describing its missions and displaying pictures of its members.
But when a gay couple showed up to have their picture taken for the directory, Betty Price, the directory coordinator, was having none of it. She raised a stink and spread her discontent – even calling the General Baptist Convention of Texas – before resigning from the position.
So now the church is having to face the decision of how to treat their gay brothers and sisters. Would they include the couple as a family, would they include individual photos, or would they decide that gay members are not worthy of inclusion in a directory.
The pastor, Brett Younger, discussed the problem at a Wednesday night church service (Star-Telegram):
Younger said that the church has had gay members for decades but that no couple had ever been pictured in the directory. He said to change directions would understandably be “troubling to many.”
On the other hand, Younger wrote that other church members think that the congregation’s gays, who “worship, serve and give just like everyone else,” should not be treated like “second-class members.”
The response has been varied. The church staff recommended to exclude them from the directory. The deacons considered letting families decide for themselves who was in their family, but voted that down and could come to no further decision. Those attending a monthly business meeting voted to present the idea to the congregation (for their vote) to list the couple together in the telephone directory but to show two separate photographs. The vote will be on December 2.
One of the more interesting aspects of this story, to me, is the attitude of the couple in question. They refused to allow their names to be published and they willingly took separate photographs because they did not want to be “poster child[ren] for a division in the church”.
“We are at the church to learn and to serve,” one of the men said. “There are people out there who are destined to be activists. I don’t feel like one of them.”
Often it is those who are quietly living their lives with integrity that most impact the world around them.
As a side note, perhaps it is not surprising that the pastor at Broadway Baptist from 1992 to 1999 was Rev. Stephen Shoemaker, currently the pastor at Myers Park Baptist.