Posts Tagged As: First Baptist Church Austin

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2016

Yesterday I told you about the threat made by the Baptist General Convention of Texas to expell two LGBT-affirming Baptist churches from the general convention. One of those churches, Dallas’s Wilshire Baptist Church, was still voting and tabulating the results of its congregational vote on a resolution that “would permit all members to participate in congregational life on the same basis as any other church member regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This affirms the ability of the church’s committees and lay and staff governance structures to consider all members for leadership, ordination, baby dedication and marriage based upon individual merit and the discernment of those duly elected to governance positions.” Wilshire was due to release the results of that vote yesterday. Now, WFAA-TV in Dallas reports:

Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas

Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas

Wilshire Baptist Church has voted to grant gays and lesbians full membership to the church, which would allow them to be considered for leadership positions, and grant same sex marriages.

The resolution passed by a 61 percent majority in a final vote which was released on Monday afternoon.

“We want to normalize life as quickly as possible for LGBT folk. And this is not a one-issue church. It’s a church and we’re simply saying the Gospel is open to all and closed to none,” said Senior Pastor George Mason said of the congregational vote.

Of the 948 ballots cast, 577 voted in favor, 367 were against it, and four people abstained.

…”Our church knows that there are consequences of our decision,” Mason said. “We think there will be many positive consequences for being able to say to the LGBT community that they are welcome here fully, in Christ.”

The Dallas Morning News reports that those consequences were quick in coming.

“Central to Baptist doctrine is the autonomy of the local church. By putting this issue to a vote, Wilshire Baptist Church demonstrates just such autonomy,” the convention said in a written statement. “While we have deep respect and appreciation for this church, Texas Baptists have a longstanding and often reaffirmed biblical position on human sexuality and marriage. We are saddened by the outcome of Wilshire’s vote, and their withdrawal from harmonious cooperation with the churches of the Convention.”

…Wilshire’s decision means the convention will no longer accept funds from the Dallas church, and it will not seat messengers at the convention’s annual meeting, currently taking place in Waco. The church is also not allowed to express affiliation with the convention, and members cannot serve on the board, committees or in other roles.

Another church, First Baptist Church in Austin, was also expelled from the state convention:

First Baptist Church, Austin

First Baptist Church, Austin

“We have performed gay weddings, we have done dedications of gay leadership, we have celebrated childrenon gay couples and we will proudly continue to do all of those things, said Rev. Dr. Griff Martin, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Austin.

…“When they came and said your stance on this, you won’t fit anymore in our convention, I wasn’t surprised I was sad. It’s just one more example in my opinion of the church doing the wrong thing,” said Martin.


Baptist General Convention of Texas Warns Churches in Dallas and Austin Over LGBT Inclusion

Jim Burroway

November 14th, 2016

Wilshire Baptist Church,  Dallas

Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas

Members of Wilshire Baptist Church of Dallas voted yesterday on a resolution which, according to a statement posted on its web site, “would permit all members to participate in congregational life on the same basis as any other church member regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This affirms the ability of the church’s committees and lay and staff governance structures to consider all members for leadership, ordination, baby dedication and marriage based upon individual merit and the discernment of those duly elected to governance positions.”

Wilshire hasn’t yet announced the results of yesterday’s vote, but on November 8, the Baptist General Convention of Texas sent a letter to Wilshire and to the First Baptist Church in Austin notifying them that their affirming stances threaten their expulsion from the state convention:

The letter to Wilshire frames the congregation’s relationship to the BGCT in terms of “potential withdrawal.”

“Should your church choose to publicly affirm same-sex sexual behavior, the BGCT will no longer be able to accept funds from the church, seat its messengers to the annual meeting, allow the church to express affiliation with the BGCT or allow its members to serve on the BGCT boards, committees or other roles,” the letter states.

Wilshire pastor George Mason calls the letter “provocative” and “premature,” and added that the vote by his congregation hadn’t yet been completed when the letter was sent. The results are expected to be released to church members via email sometime today. Wilshire Board member Casey Boland says the decision that Wilshire is undertaking has been a difficult one for the congregation:

“This is not an easy decision. I mean, this is cutting to the core of very strong beliefs that people have on both sides,” said Casey Boland. She has been a member of the Wilshire Baptist Church for 10 years.

“The reasons that have been used for why people should vote ‘no’ are the same reasons that were used for – why divorced people should not be allowed to be in the church, why blacks and whites should not be allowed to be married, why women should not be pastors. It just, in my view, rings hallow.” said Boland.

Austin’s First Baptist Church responded to a similar letter from the state Convention putting FBC “on notice” for adopting a policy last year welcoming LGBT people into the congregation:

First Baptist Church, Austin

First Baptist Church, Austin

“As a church, we did our diligent theological work, being guided by the spirit, meditating on sacred scripture and hearing the stories and struggles of our own members,” the Austin church’s letter states. “As a result of that thoughtful process, we are proudly and openly welcoming and affirming of all God’s beloved children.”

The letter suggested the BGCT’s actions had been unfairly influenced by other churches that disagreed with the Austin policy and threatened to stop giving money to the convention until the church was “excluded from fellowship.”

Once we begin to listen to the voices who wield their power and financial strength in this way,” the letter continued, “we have begun a slippery slope to fundamentalism and irrelevancy.”

Dallas’s Royal Lane Baptist Church was the last to be kicked out of the Convention six years ago for appointing gay deacons.


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