CONCORD, N.C. (BP)–The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has severed ties with McGill Baptist Church in Concord, N.C., after the congregation accepted two homosexual men as members and baptized them.
“Basically we’re not allowed to receive funds from any church that takes any public actions that seem to approve or endorse or bless homosexuality,” James Royston, executive director and treasurer of the state convention, told Baptist Press.
The action follows a similar one taken by the Carbarrus Baptist Association, which voted 250-11 in April to cut ties between itself and the church.
“The New Testament teaches in Romans 1:26-27 that the homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God’s will and plan for mankind,” the association said in a statement released in April. “It is a sinful lifestyle, which He denounces, not only here but in other passages of Scripture as well.”
The state convention then took note of the association’s actions.
“We became aware that there was some controversy going on between the church and their association back in the spring,” Royston said. “After monitoring that and reviewing the information from the association and press coverage … the administration and elected leadership reviewed it and decided that [McGill Baptist Church] no longer qualified to send funds. So it was basically an internal policy decision.”
The church was not aware of the convention’s decision until the pastor searched for and did not find his church on the convention’s website in September. He then questioned the convention and learned of the decision.
“That was an oversight on our part,” Royston said. “I have apologized to the church for that. Normally churches send receipts on a monthly basis, so I was holding off on sending the note [notifying them of their severed status] until we received a check. Several months went by, and it just got overlooked. That was not fair, and I have apologized to them for that. We should have gone ahead and notified them at that time.”
Regarding the issue of whether homosexuality is a sin, Steve Ayers, pastor of McGill Baptist, told Baptist Press in the spring a tolerance for various interpretations is necessary. 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 then. “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 association’s 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.”
Association officials meet with church officials at least twice before voting to withdraw fellowship.
The two middle-aged men have been together six years and share a house, the Charlotte Observer reported Oct. 6. They are regular worshipers and sing in the choir.
McGill Baptist is the fourth church to be expelled from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in recent years. In 1992, a church in Raleigh performed a homosexual union ceremony and a Chapel Hill congregation ordained a homosexual divinity school student, The News & Observer said. Both were ousted from the state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. Six years later, Wake Forest Baptist Church in Winston-Salem was expelled after it performed a union ceremony for a homosexual couple.
Royston said he has invited McGill Baptist to send the state convention any information or explanation pertaining to its baptism of homosexuals.