LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Churches that choose to continue to support a small breakaway Baptist group that is considering allowing gays and lesbians to serve in ministerial roles could be ruled out of fellowship with the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
KBC messengers voted Tuesday to commission the Committee on Credentials to monitor actions by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship if the organization moves ahead with a proposal to hire LGBT people. More than 500 people, including 12 former moderators, have signed a petition urging the CBF to lift a ban against hiring people who identify as LGBTQ.
The CBF was founded in 1991 as a group of churches that objected to the theology and methods of the SBC's Conservative Resurgence. One of the key issues was the conservative position that Southern Baptists took on the Bible.
The CBF claims about 1,800 churches are affiliated with the group. The CBF website lists 56 churches in Kentucky. Of the Kentucky churches, 45 are affiliated with KBC but only 31 have made contributions to the cooperative mission work of Kentucky Baptists in the past few years. That represents less than 2 percent of KBC churches.
The KBC’s Ed Admundson, pastor at High Street Baptist Church in Somerset, said he made the motion to have the Committee on Credentials monitor developments within the CBF and report back with recommendations after reading news reports about the proposal “to redefine biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality, to affirm homosexual behavior, and begin to hire those who practice homosexuality.”
Admundson called for the Committee on Credentials to study the moral and theological positions embraced by CBF, and to determine if churches affiliated with CBF should be allowed to also be affiliated with KBC. In effect, churches would have to choose between CBF and KBC.
“We’ve all sinned and welcome every kind of sinner into our churches,” Admundson said. “In fact, we love them and want them to come. But the issue here is redefining what the Bible calls sin to say that it isn’t.”
The CBF petition calls the ban on LGBTQ hiring “discriminatory,” says it is an infringement on the right of local churches “regarding sexual and gender diversity,” and calls for an end of a policy that forbids "the purposeful hiring of a staff person or the sending of a missionary who is a practicing homosexual."
A CBF moderator appointed an “Illumination Project Committee” to review whether the governing board should amend hiring policies.
KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood noted that he’s heard from several pastors over the years who found their church listed on the CBF website that weren’t supposed to be there.
“An email or phone call usually cleared up the matter,” Chitwood said. “I’m certain that most active KBC churches that have given to the CBF in the past will no longer do so if the group votes to abandon what the Bible teaches about gender and homosexuality. Most don’t know how far left the CBF has already gone.”