NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) – A church in Louisville has been declared no longer "in friendly cooperation" with the Kentucky Baptist Convention because of the local congregation's welcoming and affirming stance regarding homosexual members.
The KBC Committee on Credentials took action on the membership of Crescent Hill Baptist Church Thursday, Oct. 9 after being alerted to actions taken by the church last year to remove homosexuality as a restriction to membership, leadership and marriage.
In June 2013 the church voted to become a "welcoming and affirming" congregation and in October 2013 members "voted to join the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptist" according to its website.
Essentially, these decisions mean the congregation will not consider sexual orientation as a factor in allowing people to join and serve, or for ordination to the ministry, and, "that the church is willing to bless same-sex unions."
Crescent Hill, established in 1908, describes itself as "A Church for All People" and boasts of what it calls "a rich history of inclusiveness," listing on its website openness to "persons of color" in the 60's, "acceptance of women into the full ministries of the church" in the 70's and welcoming "the first gays on the board of deacons" in the 90's.
Now that the KBC committee has voted not to recognize Crescent Hill as a member, messengers (representatives from local churches) who convene Nov. 11 for the state convention's annual meeting will vote whether to accept or reject the committee's recommendation to dissociate from the Louisville congregation.
In a statement on the KBC website, KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood said the impending formal split was caused by Crescent Hill's "departure from biblical teaching and Baptist beliefs."
"We're prayerful they will return to the truth of Scripture on this issue and seek to be restored," he added.
He also contrasted the relatively recent shifts in popular opinion about homosexuality and same-sex marriage with Southern Baptists' continuing conservative stand on these issues, saying "Kentucky Baptists remain grounded in the Bible as culture continues to rush headlong toward chaos."
The KBC's 2014 annual meeting will be hosted at Living Hope Baptist Church in Bowling Green.