News Articles

N.C. association removes church for ‘condoning’ homosexuality

CONCORD, N.C. (BP)–A North Carolina church accused of baptizing two unrepentant homosexuals was removed from the Cabarrus Baptist Association April 28 by a vote of 250-11.

The church, McGill Baptist in Concord, N.C., now in its centennial year, was a founding member of the association. The church baptized the two men last June, and association officials met privately with church officials before taking action. The two men are living together.

After the meeting — which was closed to non-association members — Cabarrus Baptist Association’s Jim Wadford released a statement summarizing the association’s action.

“The Cabarrus Baptist Association respects and acknowledges the autonomy of McGill Baptist Church,” the statement read. “However, the association must take a stand based on the Scriptures.”

The statement said the association must “take a stand against any of our churches supporting or condoning this lifestyle. To allow individuals into the membership of a local church without evidence or testimony of true repentance (a turning away from the old way of living) is to condone the old lifestyle.”

The statement referred to Romans 1:26-27, which reads, “This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual intercourse for what is unnatural. The males in the same way also left natural sexual intercourse with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty for their perversion” (HCSB).

The Bible’s stance on homosexuality is clear, the association stated.

“The New Testament teaches in Romans 1:26-27 that the homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God’s will and plan for mankind,” the statement read. “It is a sinful lifestyle, which He denounces, not only here but in other passages of Scripture as well.”

The association pointed to its constitution, which states, “The Association shall not maintain fellowship with any church that departs from Southern Baptist faith and practice and fails to maintain a spirit of cooperation with the Association.”

McGill Baptist claims affiliation with both the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, although its messengers likely would not be seated at an SBC annual meeting because the SBC constitution prohibits the seating of messengers from churches that “affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”

The church’s affiliations could change. McGill Baptist pastor Steven Ayers told Baptist Press that a church committee is “examining all of our relationships and seeing where we best fit. … We haven’t excluded anything.”

Several churches in and around Asheville — which is about two hours from Concord — are forming a new association in which McGill could become affiliated, Ayers said.

“We may be their long-distance cousin,” he said.

The Cabarrus Baptist Association’s actions violated the historic Baptist principles of “autonomy, soul competency and priesthood of the believer,” Ayers said.

“Autonomy is the main issue here,” he added.

The two homosexual men visited the church for a few months before requesting membership, Ayers said.

“When they tell us that they have experienced the risen Lord and have made a profession of faith in Him, and [a profession] to turn their life over to Him, we trust them,” he said. “… We don’t ask questions.”

Regarding the issue of whether homosexuality is a sin, Ayers said a tolerance for various interpretations should have triumphed at the meeting. The Apostle Paul was not referring to homosexuality but instead to pedophilia, he claimed.

“This is where the soul competency and the priesthood of the believer comes in,” Ayers said. “Certainly these two people do not feel it’s a sin. I’ve reexamined my own beliefs about it. I’m convinced now it’s certainly not what Paul was talking about. Even if it is a sin, that is between them and God.”

But the association disagreed, saying that the issue is whether unrepentant people should be baptized.

“McGill Baptist Church has chosen to allow into its membership persons who continue to live in a homosexual lifestyle, which is contrary to the teachings of Scripture,” the motion to withdraw fellowship read. “Therefore, the spirit of cooperation with the association has been broken and out of a heart of sadness and regret we must withdraw fellowship at this time.”

The association tried to follow the biblical model for withdrawing of fellowship, the association’s statement said. Association officials first met with Ayers to try and resolve the issue, but Ayers “stated that this was a church issue and the deacons would have to discuss the matter,” according to the statement.

The church’s deacons and associational leaders met Feb. 28 but failed to produce any agreement.

“Several days later the chairman of the deacons informed the moderator of the association that the church was right in their stand to allow these men into their membership and that the church was not going to withdraw its membership from the Cabarrus Baptist Association,” the statement said.

The association informed the church of the vote to withdraw fellowship in an April 22 letter.

“This association is not trying to step in and dictate to your church,” the letter read. “We, however, as an association do see the need for us to take a stand based on the Scriptures.”

The letter states that the church refused to ask the men if they had repented of their “lifestyle,” noting, “When asked by a group of leaders from the Cabarrus Baptist Association that you go to these men and find out if they made a profession of faith and have repented, turning from this lifestyle, your leadership refused to do so.”

McGill Baptist Church, meanwhile, has grown throughout the controversy, Ayers said.

“I’m just very proud of the congregation,” he said. “We went through congregational meetings and discussed this issue thoroughly in Sunday School classes. The congregation had really come to the point of what was more important, and what was more important to them was the love of God.”

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust