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Friday, November 16, 2007

The Broadway Baptist Church Directory Controversy

An interesting story coming out of Fort Worth concerning Broadway Baptist Church (BBC is the former home of Stephen Shoemaker of Myers Park in Charlotte):

Gay couples trigger debate at church

FORT WORTH -- A new pictorial directory was supposed to be part of Broadway Baptist Church's 125th birthday celebration.

Established in 1882 near the infamous Hell's Half Acre, where gamblers and prostitutes once thrived, the church wanted to sing the praises of its missions and its members by publishing a book that included information about its programs and a directory featuring yearbook-style photographs of its members and families.

But since three gay couples asked to have their pictures included, Broadway Baptist has been involved in an increasingly divisive struggle over whether allowing the portraits to appear would be an endorsement of homosexuality by the congregation.

"Baptists are not quiet people. We're dealing with a difficult issue on which we have different opinions that we're not afraid to share," said the Rev. Brett Younger, the church's pastor. "We disagree, but we do so respectfully."

The church will vote in December on a proposal to allow gay members to appear in individual photos, but not as couples. The directory is scheduled to be distributed next year.

Church members have been reluctant to talk about the dispute. Seen as a moderate church within the Baptist denomination, Broadway has about 1,500 members, with about 600 attending Sunday services.

"I think we are a family trying to work out our problems," said Kathy Madeja, chairman of the board of deacons. "I think we are Baptists being Baptists. We are not the only church struggling with this issue." Read the rest here.

A blogger named Scott Jones who is familiar with BBC offers a few criticisms here

And a member of Broadway Baptist Church offers a few thoughts over at Jesus Politics.

Regardless of the wording used in any articles you've read on this subject, very few Broadway Baptist Church members seem to "ride the fence" on this issue.

We're a diverse bunch of people.

Many members are openly opposed to gay inclusion. Other members want to welcome them as they would any other Christians. (I honestly don't think that any gay couples were requesting to have their pictures taken "as a couple"....as I understand it, they merely showed up like any other family. And were surprised by the controversy.)

Cecil Sherman, an ex-Broadway pastor, once ended a North Carolina segregated worship service in the early 1960's WITHOUT the traditional invitation hymn. He let his church know that until the church was open to everybody, it shouldn't be open to anybody.

The church immediately called a business meeting, and voted to integrate the church.

Broadway now faces a similar issue.

So does my family.

We had an impromptu family business meeting last night, and decided that if our gay friends can't be in the church directory, we're not going to be in the church directory.

That's as far from the "fence" as we can get, and still be members.

P.S. - Ironically, Cecil Sherman preached the only anti-gay sermon I've ever heard....

Broadway Baptist Church is one of the most historic congregations in the Baptist General Convention of Texas. BBC was the home to John Claypool from 1971-1976, Welton Gaddy from 1977-1983 and Cecil Sherman from 1985 to 1982. Throughout the SBC Controversy, Sherman was one of the most outspoken voices on the moderate side. He helped form the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and became the CBF's first Executive-Director in 1992.

Another historical tidbit - William Douglas Hudgins pastored Broadway Baptist from 1936-1942. Hudgins was a main character in Charles Marsh's award-winning God's Long Summer where he hid behind certain Baptist doctrines to avoid taking a stand against the activities of the Ku Klux Klan.

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Blogger D.R. said...

To me this seems to be a perfect example of what happens when you try to build unity around diametrically opposed views. This debate can never be settled by asking, "Is it O.K. for gay couples to be featured in the pictoral?" This church can no longer avoid the much more fundamental question, which is, "Is homosexuality explicitly forbidden by the Bible?" Until they answer this question, things like this will only serve to be the tip of a very large iceberg.

4:15 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Someone got to my blog tonight by googling "Brett Younger heretic." Yikes.

I've always found Broadway to be a fascinating church, both because of its extensive social justice ministry, and because such diverse Baptists coexist under one roof. Where else do you still find Southwestern students AND gay couples?

D.R. is right in that they're not dealing with the real issue here, and I think that's only going to become a larger issue for moderate Baptists. It's one that they risk losing much of the younger generation over as well, but that's another debate.

11:10 PM

Blogger shadrach said...

As a Southern Baptist with about your same qualifications :) I affirm every church who is accepting of homosexuals in their congregations. This is precisely Jesus's view on all matters of sinners: we have to meet them where they are. Remember, without that 'olive branch' we would also still be slaves to sin. However, many have taken that to the next step in saying we are to fellowship with them even in continued disobedience.

The deeper issue: if you uphold the inerrancy of scripture, then homosexuality is a sin just like not keeping the Sabbath. (I chose that one because it's often ignored.)

So, it's not a matter of intolerance, it's a matter of doctrine, same goes for MP in NC. If they want to be Baptist, uphold the Baptist statment of faith found in the 2000 BF&M.

Baptist practice (in thought) is that we withdraw fellowship from any member continuing to live sin as the last step of church discipline described by Paul. That is any sin, from not observing the Sabbath to continuing unbiblical relationships.

2:41 AM

Anonymous mlw-w@insightbb.com said...

A minority of Baptist congregations in England and the U.S. and Canada have full inclusion of GLBT folk. I have been blogging a case for such inclusion on Levellers.

I am happy to belong to the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB).

I would say the questions are these: "If "homosexuality" is forbidden by the Bible, what kind?" Are we forbidding prison rapes, polyamorous exploration by pubescents and pre-pubescents, same sex prostitution (even temple prostitution), the promotion of poly-sexual promiscuity (e.g. "Girls Gone Wild"), pederasty--or loving, non-exploitive same-sex monogamy analogous to heterosexual marriage (at its best)? What role do we give to scientific investigation in biblical interpretation and application? If we rule out psycho-social studies on sexual orientation as "secular perspectives" that should not change how we read and apply Scripture on same-sex matters, should we also rule out modern astronomy when reading the passage in Joshua where God stops the sun in the sky? Do we condemn an epidural for women in labor because after the Fall women are to have pain in childbearing?

If we make distinctions, on what basis? What principles do we have for deciding what modern information to take into account and what to reject?

The issues are complex. D.R. and others like him are worried about the temptation to renounce biblical faithfulness for conformity to contemporary standards. That's not unreasonable: As a pacifist, I can tell you that the church has OFTEN succumbed to the temptation to be unfaithful to Jesus and adopt easier, more worldly, standards.

But we can also be so afraid of infidelity that we miss the new things that God is constantly doing in our midst--like the Judaizers who didn't want to accept uncircumcised Gentiles. Being faithful disciples will always entail struggle.

3:02 PM

Blogger shadrach said...

mlw- good questions, but wrong mindset. Following the Truth of God's Word is not about setting rules of what is forbidden, it is about striving for God's best. God set the model for relationships with the first two people He created. ANY sort of relationship outside of that is not His will. Thus, even the bulk of Biblical patriarchs were in sin due to their affinity for multiple wives, but see Solomon and David for an example of how even good, wise people are held accountbale for their sins.

So we do not interpret the Bible in terms of any findings of modern science. God, the author of everything, had His Word for us prepared from before the beginning of time. And if we believe its words to be true, God is unchanging from the beginning to the end; there are no new things. We interpret modern science in light of God's Word.

And a note about Judaizers: they wanted everyone to be like them. This is not about resembling the SBC, it is about being like Christ.

5:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I truly hope you practice what you say about interpreting science in light of God's word. I hope that you believe the earth is flat and held up by four pillars. I hope that you believe that the sun stopped in the sky (which implied it was moving). I hope that you believe dinosaurs existed on this earth in the last 6,000 years.

Once you discount these beliefs, your entire argument falls apart. How does it not? Science speaks against all of these.

Christianity is a belief that inherently disregards much of what science tells us. We believe, for example, that a man was raised from the dead - clearly an impossibility in the science realm. So the Christian faith naturally ignores certain aspects of science in certain circumstances - no argument there.

You may believe that what happened in Joshua was just a "perception" of what the writer could actually see and that he was unable to know that the universe is heliocentric due to his limited understanding of astronomy. Fair enough, but this idea is brought into the text due to presumptions you have already made, not necessarily ones that the Bible has made. The Bible is no less real or authoritative to me because of certain intellectual shortcomings of the author(s).

If considering ideas like anything other than a literal 6 day creation, homosexuality as orientation rather than choice, or a round earth is dangerous to one's faith, then I would suggest that his or her faith is resting on the wrong foundation.

11:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a member of Broadway, an ordained baptist minister and a New Testament PhD candidate. Please read my reason for why we should fully include gay and lesbian people in our church. http://progressivebaptist.wordpress.com/2007/11/19/broadway-baptist-church-and-homosexuality/juti

7:19 PM

Blogger D.R. said...


I'm sorry man, but I don't think we can toss out 2000+ years of consistent Church teaching on homosexuality for a less than 50 year old reading of Romans 1 (which came ironically during a sexual revolution not seen since the pre-Christian Roman empire) that defies it. While I can appreciate your willingness to examine Scripture in fresh ways, you have to go beyond cultural concerns to make a case for violating Church History on such a serious matter upon which hangs the salvation of many, many men and women.

I challenge you to read Robert Gagnon's book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. While many conservative authors exist, few deal as comprehensively with the subject as does Gagnon. And few liberal commentators have been willing to take him on. Additionally, you might want to check out my exposition on Romans 1 on my blog:

Homosexuality and The Apostle Paul: A Study on Romans 1:26-27.

9:28 PM

Blogger shadrach said...


I am with Wade B on posting in anon, just say your name.

Yes I do practice what I say. So you are with some of the greatest scientists of all time in saying that the earth is flat? or did you not know that the round view has only been held for a thousand years?

Do you hold with the scientists who agree with carbon dating or those who think it is incorrect due to certain instabilities in the nature of carbon? (I started college as a chemical engineering major) Is it really possible for something to come from nothing or do you also hold to the 'alien spore' theory? Can a massive flood mixed with earthquakes and the ground being torn apart disrupt the layers of the earth?

The fact is, science changes. Does that mean we have to change? NO. The Bible does not say God created the world flat or round, simply that He created it. So, we hold to the Bible and let science change its opinon as often as it likes. We know the Truth! Theories can explain why the truth is true, but they cannot prove it false, which is why noone yet has managed to proove the Bible wrong even according to strict inerrant interpretation.

JC, I really appreciate what you guys are trying to do, but what do you do with 1 Corinthians 6:9?

3:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shad -

I'm not sure what you're getting at regarding the flat earth vs. round earth statement. All I meant was if you are going to interpret science through a biblical lens then wouldn't you have to think the world is flat? I don't interpret science through a Biblical lens because the Bible is not a book of science. It's like interpreting an apple through an orange...it doesn't make sense.

Science changes; I think I would agree there. Obviously the science that came to the conclusion that the earth is flat is far inferior to the science that learned the earth is round. Apparently the science used by Biblical writers (sight) was incomplete. I could think the stars are just bright dots in the sky by my own conclusions, but obviously we know now that they are not simply that.

So in a sense I don't understand what you mean by "We don't have to change." When I learn something that changes my view on a certain subject I had before, then yes I change. Why deny that?

If you are more knowledgeable in the science realm, then more power to you. It's totally cool to go against the majority of scientists on an overwhelmingly agreed upon issue if you like (Age of earth, global warming, sexual orientation). Just be prepared to further alienate yourself from the intellectual world - this is why Southern Baptists are becoming the laughing stock of the world.

I'll stick to anonymity right now, because who knows? I could be VERY close to you...mwahahahaha!

6:29 AM

Anonymous Chuck said...


I didn't recognize your (new?) user name, but clicked on the link, so I now know who I am addressing.

What kinds of homosexuality are forbidden? All kinds--consentual for all parties, criminal for the criminal.

In regards to homosexuality, what "new thing" would God be doing in our midst? The end time accounts indicate the earth is still populated, so rule out God now endorsing homosexuality which, taken to its logical conclusion, would annihilate the human race.

8:57 AM

Blogger D.R. said...


First, can you please point me to the place in the Bible were it says that the world is flat? You keep going on with this, but where does the Bible make this claim?

The truth is that there are places in the Bible where the earth is described as spherical - Job 26:7-10; Isaiah 40:20-21; Proverbs 8:27. If your only defense here is the "four corners the earth", a phrase used in the OT and NT, then you might want to educate yourself on the Greek and Hebrew meanings of those words, instead of reading atheistic and skeptical talking points.

And science does change in vast ways. Remember global cooling? That was only a few years ago. And today it seems daily scientists are coming out against the conclusions of so-called global warming experts (one of the latest being the FOUNDER of the Weather Channel). So science does change, and among the biggest problems have been "social scientists" who claim all sorts of things that turn out to be biased.

But this argument isn't really about science. Science has proven absolutely nothing about homosexuality. NOTHING! I am so sick of this ignorant argument.

As Christians we should care less about matching our beliefs to so-called science (which, BTW, God HIMESELF, invented) and more about matching our lives to Biblical morals. We are called to live holy lives, not lives pushed in the direction of science. In the end, when we stand before God we will be judged on our actions according to the Word of God, not the word of science.

As for your statement, "Just be prepared to further alienate yourself from the intellectual world - this is why Southern Baptists are becoming the laughing stock of the world," let me offer this amazingly stark pronouncement by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

1:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well if you're sick of my ignorance then I'm out. Can't mess with you guys!

2:45 PM

Blogger shadrach said...


You don't have to leave. Do we really come here thinking that we can this easily change such solid beliefs in others? No. We debate these issues so that we all have a stronger understanding of each other. If you read through the Bible and see that something in there is refuted by scientific findings, bring it up. We'll do our best, as you would expect, to show why the Bible is still true.

If neither of us will change, what is the purpose? We cannot fully understand God and scientists cannot fully explain why things are the way they are. We inform each other and debate each others' views in order to more solidify our understandings. Galileo was excommunicated for believing the earth revolved around the sun. I am glad science has helped us understand the truth. Despite all the different theories about creation, doesn't intelligent design just seem the most logical? Many modern scientists think so. I bet they're glad the Bible has helped them understand. It is through these discussions that better ourselves.

8:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact of the matter is that if the LGBT members of this church allow themselves to be run over by a group of homophobic sinners then they belong in the very ditch they are digging.

I would ask for a refund of my donations and tell them all to go fuck themselves as they will burn in hell for hypocrisy.....just like Jerry Falwell.

12:07 PM


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