Split among American Baptists:
American Baptist Churches, a 1.5 million member US denomination was rocked this week with the Pacific Southwest region (with churches in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona) voting in favour of leaving the denomination. The issue? Some member churches accept as church members unrepentant, practicing homosexuals.
The response to this saw much of the same old hoogly:
"Tony Campolo, a well-known American Baptist speaker and a professor of sociology at Eastern University, said he also was disappointed. 'The decision hurts some of the finest missionary work in today's world. More important, it runs counter to the prayer of Christ that we might all be one people,' Campolo said.
Judy Allbee, executive minister of the American Baptist churches in Connecticut, said 'it is a sad day for the cause of Jesus Christ when one part of the body cannot tolerate being with the rest of the body.' She said the decision of the Pacific Southwest region was the result of the region's belief that it was in sole possession of the truth."
A statement from the Roger Williams Fellowship, an American Baptist group self-described as a "grassroots organization advocating for Baptist principles," said it lamented the withdrawal of the Pacific Southwest region. Their regret, they noted, was "tempered by a repudiation" of the Pacific Southwest region's demand that the denomination enforce its 1992 position statement on homosexuality.
The fellowship also said that the Pacific Southwest region had articulated a "fundamentally flawed vision" of the Baptist tradition and American Baptist life. "We affirm that God alone is sovereign over the individual conscience, and that each local church has the responsibility to determine God's calling for that community's time and mission."
The ABC (USA) has enough problems, but it was good to see that there remains a small segment of sanity. They were right to withdraw.
As for Campolo and his ilk... that is no surprise.