July 26, 2007

Baptists Try For Unity Without Pro Gay Groups

From the Christian Post:

Two pro-gay national Baptist organizations have been denied official participation in an upcoming milestone gathering focused on Baptist unity.

The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB) and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, both of which openly affirm gays and lesbians in the life of the national bodies, were told they cannot participate as an organization in the "Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant" in January 2008. Members of the two bodies, however, can participate as individuals.

The New Baptist Covenant is an effort spearheaded by former president Jimmy Carter and Bill Underwood, president of Mercer University in Atlanta, to counter the "negative" Baptist image presented in the media and to demonstrate Baptist unity around social causes such as poverty and AIDS as well as evangelism. Carter has expressed concern that the most common opinion about Baptist is that they cannot get along.

Ken Pennings, executive director of the AWAB, argued, "Here we are at a critical juncture when Baptists of all stripes are coming together to take a strong stand for justice for all of God's children, and the very people in American society being scapegoated and marginalized the most … are not going to be invited to participate.”

The AWAB and the Baptist Peace Fellowship had applied for membership in the North American Baptist Fellowship and asked to be included as sponsors of the upcoming pan-Baptist gathering, according to Stanford. The NABF executive committee denied their membership which excludes them from being official sponsors of the new covenant.

“This really is more like the Old Covenant than the New Covenant,” Pennings said, according to ABP. “Why would we want to participate in this? There’s nothing new about this; it’s the same old exclusion.”

A popular misconception here is that all baptists fall under the heading of Sothern Baptists (who are not participating in this effort either). Sadly, the group that is excluding the pro-gay organizations are considered to be less conservative than the SBC (most things are), yet is still not open to considering acceptance of GLBT people.

You can't have true unity and exclude a group at the same time, that's just common sense and an understanding of what the word unity means. What a shame.

Here is the entire article from the Christian Post.


  1. I suppose every group thinks it has to draw the line somewhere. As a gay man, I am used to the line being drawn to cut me out. You are right, though, that it is ironic that an effort to draw a circle that brings people in is choosing to make the circle too small for some who wish to belong.

    I have a cousin who is an SBC minister, and when he visited me in Chicago we drove by an American Baptist Church adjacent to the University of Chicago campus where I worked. When I pointed it out, he said, quite innocently, "Oh, they're not real Baptists."

  2. How many times must I forgive? Not seven, but seven times seventy.

    As times change, so do the minds of even those labelled "conservative", if we keep speaking. Repetition matters. And we must approach our siblings with humility and love if we are to win their minds and hearts. So don't give up on the Baptists just yet. It took a while to get folks to view slavery as wrong, and it will take a while to get folks to see anti-gay stances as wrong, but with persistence I believe it will happen.

  3. "a shame" is not the words that first came to mind.
    and yes, it's sad. My divorce from the baptist Church was probably the most painful thing I've had to do to date.