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SBTC removes church over homosexuality controversy

BAYTOWN, Texas (BP)-—The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s executive board has acted unanimously to disaffiliate a church for violating the convention’s constitutional provision concerning churches that “affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”

The SBTC credentials committee and two SBTC staff members met Dec. 20 for one hour and 45 minutes with the pastor of Faith Harbour — previously an SBTC congregation in Baytown — with a redemptive aim, SBTC minister-church relations director Deron Biles wrote in a summary of the meeting.

Biles recounted that the committee hoped to clarify Faith Harbour’s stance toward a church it is helping sponsor and allowing to meet in its facilities, which bills itself on its website as welcoming and affirming of homosexual, bisexual and trangendered people.

Additionally, the new church, Eklektos, has a female senior pastor. Biles said the committee and Faith Harbour pastor Randy Haney were unable to resolve their differences over Faith Harbour’s involvement with Eklektos.

SBTC board chairman Joe Stewart, pastor of First Baptist Church of Littlefield, said the board followed the biblical guidelines of Matthew 18 in confronting an erring brother with hopes of restoration.

“The credentials committee went through that process,” Stewart said, “and sat down and talked with the pastor about what constitutes a church that they are hosting in their building which has a female pastor and basically affirms the homosexual lifestyle.

“One cannot be presenting the life-changing Gospel to homosexuals and at the same time affirm the lifestyle,” Stewart continued. “When we sign an agreement to be a part of the SBTC, we have those theological parameters that we live and abide through and that is part of what makes us unique and distinct.

“The door is still open for them to reconcile if they will just agree to abide by the theological parameters of the SBTC,” Stewart added. “Although we want to reach out to people caught in sin, at the same time we can’t affirm the lifestyle.”

Article III of the SBTC’s constitution states: “… Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”

South Texas Baptist Association, of which Faith Harbour was a member, presented the church a letter notifying them of the association’s intent to disaffiliate them the same day the SBTC credentials committee met with Haney.

Haney appeared to allude to the situation on the church’s Internet blog Jan. 10.

“It always amazes me how much people hate those who try to get out of the box and take the message of Jesus Christ to those who are considered unclean,” Haney wrote. “Now that I think about it, that was part of what the Jews hated about Jesus. How dare we defile the sanctuary by inviting sinners to come and be a part of hearing the message of Christ! Doesn’t the Bible make it plain and clear that we are all sinners? Isn’t our righteousness only found in Christ and Him alone?”

The Eklektos website states: “This community of Christians is especially called to welcome and affirm people who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered. We are a diverse group of disciples — diverse in age, race, gender, ideology and sexual orientation. We are united in Christ and in the affirmation that all people are loved and called by Christ to be His disciples and to be a part of His healing/reconciling work in the world.”

The SBTC consists of more than 1,700 churches in a confessional fellowship with one another — a unique arrangement among the 41 state and regional conventions that cooperate as Southern Baptists.
Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

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