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Stance on homosexual behavior slated for N.C. vote in Nov.

ASHEBORO, N.C. (BP)–A two-part process to disqualify churches that condone homosexual behavior will be recommended to messengers at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting in November.

The proposal was approved by the convention’s executive committee and board of directors during May 23 meetings in Asheboro.

The proposal calls for additions to the convention’s articles of incorporation, Section A. 3. of Article VI dealing with membership.

One sentence would state the convention’s stance against homosexual behavior: “Among churches not in friendly cooperation with the Convention are churches which knowingly act to affirm, approve, endorse, promote, support or bless homosexual behavior.”

The second part of the proposed process is: “The Board of Directors shall apply this provision. A church has a right to appeal to the next session of the Convention any adverse action taken by the Board of Directors.”

The proposal was approved by a 14-4 vote during the BSC executive committee meeting May 23, followed that evening by a voice vote among the convention’s board of directors approving it by a wide margin.

At the annual meeting, the proposal will require a two-thirds vote of messengers in order to be enacted.

The proposal was framed by a seven-member committee created to follow through on a motion adopted at the convention’s annual meeting last November instructing the board of directors “to develop and implement a policy” that would “deal clearly with homosexual behavior,” including a stipulation “that a church which knowingly affirms, approves, or endorses homosexual behavior is a church not in friendly cooperation with the Convention.” Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, chaired the committee.

The convention’s newsjournal, the Biblical Recorder, reported noted that the committee also recommended five defining criteria that would not be part of the amendment but would be used by the board of directors in determining whether a church has ceased to be “in friendly cooperation”:

— Official public statements affirming, approving, endorsing, promoting, supporting or blessing homosexual behavior.

— Ordination of those whom the church knows have not repented of their homosexual behavior.

— Knowingly allowing a staff member to perform, or the church providing facilities for marriage or other ceremony, blessing, or union of persons of the same sex.

— Knowingly affiliating with, contributing money to or maintaining membership in a group which affirms, approves, endorses, promotes, supports or blesses homosexual behavior.

— Accepting as members those whom the church knows have refused to repent of the sin of homosexual behavior.

The Recorder reported that adoption of the recommendation by the convention “could spark a call for the exclusion of more than a dozen BSC churches that are also affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists. The Alliance, a national organization of about 125 Baptist congregations, affirms the acceptance of active homosexuals in the life of the church.

“Affiliation with the Alliance of Baptists became a bone of contention in 2005, when the Committee on Nominations announced that persons would not be nominated for BSC positions if they belonged to a church affiliated with the Alliance,” the Recorder reported.

The Biblical Reporter also noted, “Previously, the BSC has excluded a few churches deemed too tolerant of homosexual behavior on the basis of a financial policy adopted by the General Board in 1992. The policy was applied most recently with the exclusion of McGill Baptist Church of Concord in 2003.”

The board’s president, Don Warren, told the Associated Press he “absolutely” believes messengers will approve the policy in November.

“We believe homosexuality is sin, as are many others,” Warren said. “But we are not aware of any other sin that has a national organization that promotes its happening beginning in kindergarten and first grade.”

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