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Fort Worth church severs ties with BGCT

FORTH WORTH, Texas (BP)–Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, voted Sept. 8 to sever ties with the Baptist General Convention of Texas over the church’s stance on practicing homosexuals in membership.

The church chose not to send messengers to the 2009 state convention annual meeting, avoiding an issue over whether its messengers would be seated, according to a Sept. 14 article in the Dallas Morning News. In May 2010, the BGCT executive board severed relationships with Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas over that congregation’s policy of accepting practicing homosexuals into membership.

Broadway senior pastor Brent Beasley told the newspaper the church voted “without dissent” to leave the state convention and a letter of notification was delivered to Randel Everett, BGCT executive director, on Sept. 13.

“We’re committed to welcoming all people here, and we would not want to do anything that would be hurtful to anyone just to please the BGCT,” Beasley told the newspaper. “It is time for us to move forward and keep all of our focus on our mission — the worship of God, ministry to those in need, bearing witness to the gospel of Jesus, and welcoming all into our church…. This is all too important for us to be spending this much time on denominational politics and distractions.”

Broadway Baptist was one of the founding congregations of the state convention in 1886, the Dallas newspaper reported.

“It is a sad day for us that we are unable to continue this relationship,” Everett of the BGCT told the paper. “I don’t know of any congregation that has been more of a strategic partner to Texas Baptists than Broadway.” Everett said two former executive directors of the BGCT served as pastors of the church. Broadway has been “an example of ministry to the least of these among us,” Everett said. “I pray that there will be opportunities in the future for Broadway and the BGCT to partner together in mission and ministry.”

Beasley told the newspaper the church would contribute directly to Baptist causes it previously helped fund through the BGCT, the newspaper reported. The church will remain affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an association of “moderate” Southern Baptist churches organized nearly 20 years ago in protest of the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. According to the CBF website (www.thefellowship.info), the organization has a “personnel and administrative funding policy,” adopted in 2000, that affirms marriage “between a man and a woman and celibacy in singleness,” disallows CBF funding of “organizations or causes that condone, advocate or affirm homosexual practice” and prohibits “purposeful hiring of a staff person or the sending of a missionary who is a practicing homosexual.”

The national Southern Baptist Convention cut ties with Broadway in 2009, the year after the congregation was embroiled in a public controversy over allowing homosexual couples in the church to be pictured as families in a planned 125th anniversary pictorial directory. Broadway’s pastor at the time, Brett Younger, stepped down in June 2008, three months after surviving a vote on whether to retain him as pastor. Younger became an associate professor of preaching at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Georgia.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.

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