NC Baptist church ‘outs’ itself to state convention


According to the North Carolina-based Baptist Recorder, the Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC, has sent a letter to North Carolina State Baptist Convention officials “outing” themselves as a gay-friendly, welcoming and accepting congregation:

The letter notes that BSC procedures call for two complaints about a church before an investigation is started.

“The purpose of this letter is to inform you there is no need to wait upon the secret reports of others,” the deacons wrote. “We, with our 1,850 members serving as witnesses, hereby turn ourselves in.”

Back in November 2006, the Baptist State Convention adopted new procedures ousting churches which are “gay-friendly.” Some churches have already removed themselves from the convention, but Myers Park’s approach to this controversial issue is a commendable one.

The letter invites BSC officials to visit the church and get to know the congregation this spring. It notes that the deacons “believe strongly in the gospel’s power of transformation through experience.”

“Please come join us in all facets of our church life, including our worship, Christian education, mission outreach and all of the other activities of our congregation,” the letter says. “We welcome the opportunity for dialogue with you.”

The letter acknowledges the BSC’s authority as an autonomous group to determine its membership, but also notes that the BSC’s Articles of Incorporation said the convention “is not set up to govern or exercise any authority over other Baptist bodies, but to assist churches in promoting missions, evangelism, education and social services.”

The letter says that the Sanderson amendment’s effect “is to govern interpretation of the Bible by majority vote.”

“We hope that a Baptist Convention operating in the spirit of the Baptist principles of soul competence, soul freedom and local church autonomy would provide for a wider range of scriptural interpretation than your decision indicates,” the letter says. “We are also concerned about what other differences of scriptural interpretation the Convention might use in the future to exclude North Carolina churches.”

The letter says Myers Park has been a part of the BSC since the church’s founding in 1943.

“We have happily contributed both our members and our financial resources to the purposes of the Convention,” the letter says. “While we have not always been in agreement with you (nor you with us), our differences were guided by a mutual respect and a spirit of fellowship.”

The deacons say in the letter that they recognize that both the church and the BSC are seeking to be faithful to God.

“We have a long and important relationship with North Carolina Baptists,” it says. “While we are not eager to see ties broken, we reaffirm Christ’s welcome to all persons and our commitment to being a healing witness in a world of divisions and a part of God’s dream to make all things one.”

Yes, indeed, I commend Myers Park Baptist Church for seeking dialogue instead of division. How easy would it have been to simply remove themselves from the Convention and go an easier path?

Instead, the church is seeking to bring people together, in Christian brother and sisterhood, dialogue and discussion. Their decision was, no doubt, a difficult one. Their decision is one which shows truly the power of the Gospel, that which has the grace and mercy to extend open, wide arms and instigate discussion, conversation and the bringing together of people who may not always agree on the finer points but who all proclaim one simple truth.

This type of discussion is badly needed in the religious, and even political, spheres of our lives and society. The discussion Myers Park is hoping to bring is the same type of discussion the Soulforce Equality Ride attempts to bring to religious colleges and universities across the nation. It is the same type of discussion which has led to great social changes throughout history.

The people of Myers Park Baptist Church are great and compassionate and loving people. I had the pleasure of knowing many of the youth when I was in high school and attended an Alliance of Baptists summer youth camp program for a couple of years. The youth from my church, Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem, NC, as well as others across the South, gathered in the mountains of North Carolina for a week of awesome spiritual community and life. I wish the people of Myers Park the best and I pray that they may find the discussion and dialogue they seek.

When people come together in true human brother and sisterhood seeking nothing more than understanding, compassion and reconciliation, great things can happen.

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Comments
3 Responses to “NC Baptist church ‘outs’ itself to state convention”
  1. Kevin Jones says:

    Hello All,

    Yes!

    It’s about time someone spoke up. Remeber the story of the neighbor who offered the excuse, they knocked in someone else’s door, and then someone else’s. By the time they came to my door, it was too late.

    Below is a link to the first chapter of my book, Posers.

    http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976932825

    Please vote with your comments and email the link to others.

    If you want to know more before reading the first chapter, please read the following synopsis.

    The Heroine, Celeste, is seven as the story opens in Altamont, a small town in rural Louisiana during a violent civil rights march in August of 1965. Celeste is conflicted by race relations within her family and among the town’s people. She’s not aware of her mother’s African American ancestry as her mother has been passing for white in the civil rights era south since before Celeste’s birth. Her father has died in the Vietnam war, serving as a pilot for the military. Celeste wants to understand her mother’s fears, which are her own as well.

    There are two hero’s of the story. One is Denmark Vesey. The other is Alice, Celeste mother. They both risk all the have to help thousands, even millions of people they’ve never met.

    Denmark Vesey is not a fictional character. He was born in either Africa or the Caribbean around 1767. The story fictionalizes the early, unknown years of Denmark Vesey’s life. Depicting his life as a slave in the Caribbean in eighteenth century, he is raised by a kindly closet abolitionist that educates Denmark Vesey during her life and frees him in her will upon her death. Only to be cast back into slavery by a wicked son-in-law of the dead owner. Denmark Vesey is sold to a slave trader who takes him to Africa for more slaves before settling with Demark Vesey in Charleston, South Carolina in 1783. Denmark Vesey is able to purchase his freedom from the proceeds of a winning lottery ticket. He opens and runs a business, and raises a family. Following contemporary news of revolution, insurrection and abolition, Vesey plans and attempts to carry out the largest slave insurrection in American history.

    Alice was born into a branch of the Denmark Vesey family in 1940. She flees the oppressive Jim Crow life of an African-American woman in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1950’s for life as a white woman in Louisiana in the later half of the twentieth century. She goes to college, marries a Jewish white man, has a child and upon he husband’s death takes up the cause of civil rights, participating in a march as well as covert operations for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to jail members of the Ku Klux Klan and release their grip on society.

    Deception is practiced by the mother, with Celeste as well as with other characters in the story. The mother’s secrets and deceptions are a source of conflict and mystery to the heroine, Celeste. However, Celeste mistakes one threat (her mother’s life is in danger from her clandestine relationship with the FBI in fighting against racial violence perpetrated by members of the Ku Klux Klan), for another (lots of cash Celeste finds in a doctor’s bag under the bed in her mother’s room).

    In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and her mother’s death, Celeste, at age forty seven, meets her black relatives and begins a relationship with a black man. During which time she confronts her own bigotry and grows emotionally, transcending her preconceived notions regarding race, gender, sexual orientation and other prejudices to become a more complete human being.

    Thanks!
    Kevin

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  1. NC Baptist church ‘outs’ itself to state convention

  2. […] On Feb. 9, I posted about Myers Park’s letter to the convention. They sought dialogue; the Convention sought exclusion. […]



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