DALLAS (BP)–The Baptist General Convention of Texas executive board severed all ties with Dallas’ Royal Lane Baptist Church May 25 due to the congregation’s embrace of openly homosexual deacons.
The one-sided vote by the state convention board — which was 63-4 according to The Dallas Morning News — came nearly three months after the newspaper reported about the church’s affirming attitude toward unrepentant homosexuals. The March 5 article was sparked by the church’s website displaying a sentence that stated, “We are a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds.” The story quoted a lesbian deacon as saying the website was a “collecting coming out,” and also quoted the pastor, David Matthews, as saying Jesus would have no problem with homosexuality.
The board’s action means the BGCT no longer will accept funds from the church and that it will return all funds it has received since Jan. 1. The board also asked the church — which still claims affiliation with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship — to stop referencing itself as a BGCT church. The church has about 550 resident members.
“This situation has been painful, but it has not been difficult for me,” BGCT Executive Director Randel Everett told the board, according to a story by the BGCT communications office posted online. Scripture is clear on the issue, he said.
The BGCT executive board also took a similar action in 1998 against Austin’s University Baptist Church, which also ordained openly homosexual deacons.
“I think where we need to draw the line is when they are elected to a leadership position,” Leonardo Diaz, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Hitchcock, Texas, was quoted as saying in the BGCT story.
Doug Washington, a Royal Lane deacon and BGCT board member, urged the board to allow the church to stay within the convention. The church has two homosexual deacons, he said.
“To say something is wrong with them is to say God made a mistake,” Washington said, according to The Morning News. “I can’t buy into that.”
Washington said he would be leaving the board, the newspaper reported.
The day before, the Dallas Baptist Association also severed ties with the church, saying the congregation had “affirmed a doctrinal position regarding homosexual behavior that is not in harmony” with Scripture.
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press.