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Executive Committee deems four churches not in friendly cooperation

Editor’s note: This story was updated Feb. 22 in the second and third paragraphs to clarify the Credentials Committee’s recommendations regarding New Hope Baptist Church and Grove Road Baptist Church.

NASHVILLE (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee deemed four churches not in friendly cooperation with the SBC Feb. 20, including Immanuel Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., because it has a female senior pastor.

Based on the recommendation of the SBC Credentials Committee, the EC ruled against New Hope Baptist Church in Gastonia, N.C., because of its lack of financial giving and its failure to cooperate with the Credentials Committee in resolving a question of “faith and practice.” While the committee did not mention the specific faith and practice, the church’s egalitarian view of women in ministry is posted on its website.

Because of matters related to the handling of sex abuse allegations, the EC deemed not in friendly cooperation West Hendersonville Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C., and Grove Road Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C. Specifically, Grove Road Baptist failed to cooperate with the Credentials Committee in its inquiry regarding the pastor’s mishandling of a sex abuse allegation the committee did not disclose.

Immanuel Baptist Church

Immanuel’s Senior Minister Katie McKown serves in the pastoral role at the church. The Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) already deems the church not in friendly cooperation because of the church’s dual alignment with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). The CBF differs with the SBC in matters of gender roles in ministry and biblical directives for gender identity.

Immanuel “has a faith and practice that does not closely identify with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith, as demonstrated by the church having a female lead pastor functioning in the office of pastor,” the EC said in its decision.

Baptist Press had not received a response from McKown by press time.

Immanuel averaged 165 in Sunday worship in 2022, when it gave $500 to the Cooperative Program from undesignated receipts of $796,503, according to the Annual Church Profile. The church gave $250 to the CP in 2023, its most recent donation, but did not submit other ACP statistics that year.

New Hope Baptist Church

The EC voted to “formally recognize the discontinued relationship of New Hope Baptist Church … as demonstrated by the church’s lack of reported financial participation for at least the last five (5) years and its lack of intent to cooperate to resolve a question of faith and practice.”

The Gastonia, N.C., church does not have a female pastor, but posts on its website, “We believe in equality in ministry and we do not discriminate between genders.”

New Hope Baptist Senior Pastor Brandon McKoy said he thought the church’s formal relationship with the SBC had already been severed at the local, state and national levels through the Greater Gaston Baptist Association, until he received the inquiry letter from the Credentials Committee. The local association severed its relationship with New Hope in May 2023 because the church is dually aligned with the CBF.

“We haven’t considered ourselves Southern Baptist since really Southern Baptists started removing women from the pulpit,” McKoy said. “We haven’t been Southern Baptist for a long, long time.”

He followed the advice from the deacon board that there was no need to respond to the committee’s inquiry.

The last time New Hope submitted an ACP report in 2017, it gave $1,616 to the Cooperative Program from $267,697 in reported undesignated receipts. The church averaged 98 in worship attendance that year.

West Hendersonville Baptist Church

West Hendersonville Baptist Church “is acting in a manner inconsistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse as demonstrated by their retaining as pastor an individual who is biblically disqualified,” the EC said in its decision against the congregation, but did not cite a specific offense for the disqualification.

Jerry Mullinax was hired in September 2020 as the senior pastor of the church on a part-time basis, according to the ACP.

In 2004, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) revoked Mullinax’s teaching license for sending “improper emails” to a student, according to the DPI online database of more than 750 license revocations since 1967.

Before his current post, Mullinax held ministry leadership posts at Calvary Baptist Church and Shaws Creek Baptist Church, both in Hendersonville; Emmanuel Baptist Church in Greer, S.C.; Boiling Springs Baptist Church in Fletcher, N.C., and Little River Baptist Church in Penrose, N.C., over the course of 40 years, according to his biography on West Hendersonville’s website.

Baptist Press had not received comments from Mullinax by press time.

Grove Road Baptist Church

The EC deemed Grove Road Baptist Church not in friendly cooperation “based on a lack of intent to cooperate in resolving a concern regarding the pastor’s mishandling of an allegation of sexual abuse.”

Terry Greene pastors Grove Road Baptist, a small congregation of 20 members that averaged 12 in Sunday worship in 2021, the last year the church submitted statistics to the ACP. Greene previously pastored Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Greer, S.C., as early as June 2004, according to his profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook that have not been updated since 2020.

On Facebook, he listed previous South Carolina pastorates at Northgate Colonial Baptist Church in Camden, Home Branch Baptist Church in Manning, and Dentsville Baptist Church in Columbia.

Baptist Press could not reach Greene for comment, and details of the sexual abuse allegation in question are confidential.

In accordance with Article 8, Section C of the SBC Bylaws, when an issue arises regarding a church’s cooperative status, the Credentials Committee may make inquiries of the church and make a recommendation to the EC based on information available to the Committee. The Committee is not authorized to conduct investigations of churches or perform other processes that would violate the SBC Constitution.

Churches may appeal the EC’s decisions at the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting in Indianapolis in June.