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From the Winston-Salem Journal
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Matter of Definition
Baptists OK anti-homosexual stand
By Mary Giunca
The Baptist State Convention moved a step closer yesterday to defining its longstanding opposition to homosexuality.
The Convention's 175th annual meeting, which was held in Winston-Salem, is a chance for the 3,866 member churches and 164 missions to worship and conduct business. The Convention will end today.
Messengers to the convention approved a motion by Bill Sanderson, the pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, asking the Convention's board of directors to define what constitutes friendly cooperation with the Convention. "Messenger" is the Convention's term for delegate.
"Such a policy must deal clearly with homosexual behavior and include that a church which knowingly affirms, approves or endorses homosexual behavior is a church not in friendly cooperation with the Convention," Sanderson said.
As it stands now, as long as churches contribute financially to the Convention, they are said to be "in friendly cooperation," said Norman Jameson, a spokesman for the Convention.
"We, as a Convention, are lacking a clear policy dealing with homosexual behavior, which has created both questions and confusion," Sanderson said.
Paul Berry, a messenger from Grainger Baptist Church in Kinston, spoke in favor of the motion and said that Baptists need to identify sin where it exists, and that homosexuality is a sin. "Baptists don't need to go the way of the Episcopalians," he said. "This is the day North Carolina Baptists can rise up and make a statement to the nation."
Rob Helton, a messenger from Cherry Point Baptist Church in Havelock, spoke against the resolution and asked why the Convention was focusing solely on the sin of homosexuality.
"I believe all sin is equally abhorrent to God," he said. "Does homosexuality gain our attention primarily because it is not our sin?"
Helton asked if the Convention would have to write a policy on every sin in the Bible.
In separate business, Stanley Welch, the pastor of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis, was elected Convention president.
He defeated Blythe Taylor, the associate pastor of St. John's Baptist Church in Charlotte.
Speaking at a press conference that was held after his election, Welch said that homosexuality has gotten Baptists' attention because of its visible role in American culture.
People see homosexuals on television and in movies, he said. Sports figures and other celebrities are coming out of the closet.
"Everything in our culture has pushed it to the forefront," he said. "I think it came out in the culture, and we have to deal with it."
• Mary Giunca can be reached at 727-4089 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
I find it very amusing, yet disturbing, that the Assemblies of God USA's response to "Do you have practicing gays/lesbians as members of your faith community" was "That would be highly doubtful." I hate to break to them... It is called being "in the closet" or "on the downlow."
Just because you may not know about, dears, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.