Feb 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Southern Baptists expel 2 churches over LGBTQ inclusivity

One of two churches ousted by the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee on Tuesday for being too inclusive of LGBTQ people is pushing back, saying "it is our commitment to share the love of Jesus."

Driving the news: Senior SBC leaders at a meeting the ouster of Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Georgia, and St. Matthews Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, warned that the biggest Protestant group in the U.S. was "damaging itself" with disharmony on such issues, per AP.

  • But Pastor Jim Conrad, of Towne View Baptist Church, which has welcomed worshippers from the LGBTQ community as members since October 2019, said he won't appeal the decision.
  • Conrad said in a statement: "the Southern Baptist Convention has decided that we are no longer welcome in their membership because we have welcomed LGBTQ members into our membership."
  • "It is our commitment to share the love of Jesus with everyone and welcome anyone who professes faith in Christ into our community of faith, hope, and love."

St. Matthews Baptist Church already had its ties with the Kentucky Baptist Convention severed in 2018 over financial contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which removed a ban on hiring LGBTQ workers, AP notes.

  • The church has yet to comment on the ouster, but St. Matthews Pastor Greg Barr has previously described the decision by the KBC as "disheartening," notes Baptist Press, the SBC's official news agency.

What they're saying: SBC Credentials Committee Chair Mike Lawson told Baptist Press: "We take no pleasure in recommending that a church is not in friendly cooperation with the convention."

Of note: SBC president J.D. Greear addressed the issue of racial tensions within the convention in his opening speech, saying Black Southern Baptists should be included in discussions on this issue — including on the concept of Critical Race Theory. The seminary presidents rejected this.

  • "We should mourn when closet racists and neo-Confederates feel more at home in our churches than do many of our people of color," Greear said.
Go deeper