http://stopbaptistpredators.blogspot.com/2009/02/autonomy-schmonomy.html

The post above, from the blog Stop Baptist Predators by Christa Brown, makes an interesting point.  The SBC executive committee is investigating Broadway Baptist Church of Ft. Worth to see if its policy on homosexuality is consistent with an SBC bylaw that declares churches to “not be in friendly cooperation” with the convention if they approve, affirm or endorse homosexual behavior.  It is apparently known that Broadway has five gay members, of whom two serve on some sort of church committee.  The church insists that it does not endorse or approve homosexuality, and that it desires to remain in friendly cooperation with the SBC. 

But, Christa Brown points out that no such action has been forthcoming from the executive committee regarding churches where known child molesters and abusers either serve on staff or as pastor, and she cites several examples, including Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, where current pastor Steve Gaines apparently allowed an abuser to remain on staff for some time after his abuse was disclosed, and a church in Sanger, Texas where an abuser continues to serve as pastor.

Neither the SBC nor the state convention, and for that matter the local association, has the authority or the power to tell a church who can serve as its pastor, or who it can hire on its staff.  And as a supporter of and believer in local church autonomy, I completely support that position.  The only thing a Baptist convention body can do, in cases where there is evidence that a church has done something that is either too far outside the bounds of acceptable conduct to be considered “in friendly cooperation,” or that it is no longer doctrinally or theologically compatible with the standards laid down by the churches themselves, is to sever ties.  So Christa has a point here.  If Broadway is under investigation, then why are these other churches, especially those where the abusers continue to serve, not under investigation also?  All it would require, apparently, is a motion from the floor of a convention.

The other question that is raised here is one of practicality.  The members of a local church do have the authority to determine who pastors their church and who works for them on staff.  So why are some of these guys still there?  I’ve discovered, in the past few weeks, during the process of hiring a director for a day care center, that anyone whose signature goes on a piece of documentation related to the care of children must go through an FBI fingerprint background check.  If that’s what the law requires, why don’t local churches require it?

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

6 responses

  1. BNeill says:

    About Broadway Baptist and their “balancing act” with Southern Baptists . . . money is the root and the reason for the church’s lies to the SBC. If Broadway does not remain in “friendly cooperation” with the SBC it will loose its professional music staff because four of them teach at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. They need that staff to draw the large choir and maintain the professional music program with the magnificant organ donated by Van Cliburn, the most famous of their 20 or so homosexual members. To balance that combo is “a difficult balancing act.”

    Money IS the root.

    The official letter from the church to the EC is an outright lie. Broadway has at least 20 people openly practicing homosexual behavior — and that behavior is approved by the church. One is chair of the Worship Committee and one was chair last year of the Stewardship Education Committee. Several have led in worship on Sunday morning on the platform on many occassions. And all were known to be practicing homosexuals when they joined the church.

    The church’s official letter also states, “The five [homosexuals] joined Broadway Baptist by letter from other churches, and it only later was discovered they were homosexual, committee members were told.” That also is a lie. The fact of their homesexuality was well known when they joined the church. One lesbian is the daughter of a staff member. Two lesbians were even baptised together as a “family.” And there are many more than five.

  2. Lee says:

    I can only take what those who were apparently appointed to represent Broadway, their interim pastor and two committee members, say at face value. What you have stated here are allegations, and have not stated your source of information. I’m amazed that so many people know so much about the sexual orientation of the membership of one church.

    But that’s not the point here. The SBC’s executive director Morris Chapman made a rather emphatic point at last year’s SBC about how the convention feels regarding those who are child abusers, yet in cases where known abusers are serving as pastors or church staff, has not taken any action because it has left those matters up to independent, autonomous churches. Yet, it is acting on a motion to remove a church based on an allegation of inconsistency with the bylaw definition of “friendly cooperation.” While it is noted that the SBC does not have the authority to interfere with a church’s choice of pastor, regardless of what he may have done, it seems somewhat inconsistent not to take the same kind of action when a church, for whatever reason, refuses to remove a known child abuser from its staff.

  3. Aaron Landis says:

    Lee,
    Here is a link to an article from the Fort Worth Star Telegram that ran last year.

    http://www.star-telegram.com/804/story/695018.html

    This has been brewing a while. It stemmed from many of the homosexual members wanting to be photographed with their “partner” in the church directory.
    There are several other articles by the Star Tele. about the issue. Just type in their name in the search.
    Blessings
    Aaron L.

  4. Debbie Kaufman says:

    Lee: Christa Brown has been dismissed many times as a person out of control, or a disgruntled Baptist because she was abused at a young age herself. I say what better person to have special empathy for victims and solutions to the problem of sexual predators in the church. In this area, I am going to be blunt, we are no different than the RCC in covering things up. Christa should not be dismissed, but listened to. She is a friend to want to have good solid changes made, not the enemy. I applaud her tenacity along with her facts. Someone in the SBC has better start listening to her.

  5. Debbie Kaufman says:

    that should be “had better start listening to her.”

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