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Church Culture

Southern Baptist Convention Puts Atlanta Church on Notice for Welcoming LGBTQ Members

A suburban Atlanta church has been put on notice by the Southern Baptist Convention for welcoming LGBTQ members into its congregation. 

After extending church membership to a gay couple and their three children, Senior Pastor Jim Conrad of Kennesaw, Georgia’s, Towne View Baptist Church received an email from the Southern Baptist Convention credentials committee questioning the church’s “decision to extend membership to practicing LGBTQ congregants,” The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported

The church was then told in a Feb. 8 letter from the committee that its actions were “not in friendly cooperation with the convention.” 

Rev. Conrad, however, doubled down and said there was nothing in the church’s bylaws that prevented the family from joining. 

The SBC executive committee will convene at an upcoming meeting Feb. 23 to decide whether or not to cut ties with the church over its LGBTQ stance, according to New York Daily News. If the SBC does cut ties, Towne View will not be allowed to send delegates to the denomination’s annual convention, although they can keep local and state affiliations, per the Journal Constitution. 

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Rev. Conrad said if his church is recommended for disfellowship he won’t appeal the decision, choosing instead to remain independent or seek a better fit with another group. He also said his church’s membership has declined by as much as 30 percent, likely because of its stance on gay marriage. 

The Southern Baptist Convention opposes same-sex marriage, adopting at its 2015 annual meeting a resolution stating that God created marriage as “the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman” and that “Southern Baptists recognize that no governing institution has the authority to negate or usurp God’s definition of marriage.”

The resolution further calls for Southern Baptists to “love our neighbors and extend respect in Christ’s name to all people, including those who may disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good.”

Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.