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N.C. association dismisses church over baptism policy

ELKIN, N.C. (BP)–A North Carolina Baptist association has voted to dismiss First Baptist Church of Elkin for accepting members who have not been baptized by immersion.

Johnny Enloe, director of missions for the Elkin Baptist Association, said the association voted 70-16 to dismiss the church at an Oct. 25 meeting at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Elkin.

William Johnson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Elkin, declined to comment.

The association voted at its spring meeting to change its constitution to stipulate that association churches must receive as members only people who have been immersed, and the association’s steering committee subsequently recommended that the Elkin church be dismissed for being out of compliance with the constitution.

The association and the church have discussed the issue for about a year and a half, Enloe said. During that time, the association asked the church to change its policy of accepting members who had not been baptized by immersion.

Enloe, who said he tried to stay neutral in the issue, noted, “The association had worked with them. The association did everything they could to keep this from happening.”

In a letter to the association, the church indicated it would prefer to be dismissed rather than to withdraw, Enloe said. The church indicated that it would abide by the association’s decision.

There was no discussion of the issue at the meeting Oct. 25, Enloe said.

“I think it had gone on for so long that people knew what they wanted to do and knew what the Scripture said,” Enloe said.

First Baptist was the association’s second largest financial contributor, he said.

“I’m sure it may affect the association, but some other churches have indicated that they will increase their giving,” Enloe said. “It will affect us some for sure, but the people feel they’ve done what is right according to the Scripture.”

Enloe said he hopes there will not be any animosity over the issue. The association told the church it could re-apply for membership if it changes its policy.

“If you can do something like that in a Christlike manner, it was done in a Christlike manner,” Enloe said.

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  • Steve DeVane