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Ga. Baptists remove 2 churches over issue of homosexuality

MACON, Ga. (BP)–Two congregations were removed from fellowship by nearly 2,000-vote margins during the Nov. 16 session of the Georgia Baptist Convention over the issue of homosexuality.
The votes on Oakhurst Baptist Church, Decatur, and Virginia-Highland Baptist Church, Atlanta, followed a constitutional amendment approved by messengers to the 1998 annual meeting that convention membership for “a cooperating church does not include (one) which knowingly takes, or has taken, any action to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”
Both Oakhurst and Virginia-Highland Baptist churches have ordained openly homosexual people as deacons, according to media accounts. Oakhurst also has a homosexual associate pastor, while Virginia-Highland has allowed its facilities to be used for a marriage-like same-sex blessing.
The ballot-vote totals were 2,086-262 for removing Oakhurst from the convention and 2,111-228 for removing Virginia-Highland.
The pastors of both congregations were accorded three minutes to state their concerns to the convention before the respective votes.
The two churches are the first congregations removed from the Georgia Baptist Convention in its 177-year history.
The actions concerning the congregations had been recommended by the convention’s executive committee, following a process in the 1998 stance against homosexual practice whereby concerns would were to come to the GBC executive director for exploration and recommendation.
A complete story about the Georgia convention’s action will appear in Baptist Press after the conclusion of the Nov. 15-16 annual meeting in Macon.

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