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Monday, November 12, 2007

Myers Park To Challenge Messenger Seating

Ripped from the headlines of the North Carolina's Biblical Recorder.....

The Executive Committee ruled Monday morning that Myers Park Baptist Church is not "in friendly cooperation with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina."

Myers Park Pastor Steve Shoemaker

Myers Park will challenge that finding at the BSC annual meeting Tuesday morning in Greensboro.

Myers Park is affiliated with several groups that "welcome and affirm" homosexuals as members and in leadership.

They wrote a letter to the Baptist State Convention in January declaring both that fact and their intent to stay affiliated with the Baptist State Convention.

At issue is a membership requirement - passed in 2006 - that says churches which in any way affirm homosexual behavior will be considered to be "not in friendly cooperation" with the BSC.

To be "in friendly cooperation" with the Convention's purposes is one of only two qualifications for membership.

The other is financial support in any measure.

If a church is ruled not to be in friendly cooperation, then it is effectively not a member church of the Baptist State Convention.

Myers Park representatives challenged that membership parameter, pleading instead "from the mercies of God, to refrain from removing churches like ours from your fellowship," said pastor Steve Shoemaker.....

Shoemaker said Myers Park had been studying the issue for 20 years. "We do not claim to have the whole mind of God," Shoemaker said. "We respect those whose perspectives differ."

"Jesus welcomed those considered outcasts into his Kingdom of God," Shoemaker said in his comments to the Executive Committee, where each church member also spoke. "We hope to live in His spirit. We have overcome our original resistance to the inclusion of gays and lesbians as Peter overcame his resistance to gentiles being included in the Kingdom. "

Shoemaker said unity could be based on "any number of issues of interpretation" such as speaking in tongues, war, divorce, sexuality or others, but said, "Let us base our unity on Jesus Christ as Lord."

Read the rest here.

Back in February, I wrote a post about Myers Park entitled "North Carolina Congregation 'Outs' Itself."

At that point, Myers Park had sent an open letter to BSNC officers 'outing' itself as a congregation in violation of the state convention's newly adopted policies concerning homosexuality. Now, Myers Park has been kicked out of the state convention.

It is unfortunate that Baptist life is merely but one long continuous fight over who we can and can not cooperate with.

Meanwhile, there is a concerted effort in North Carolina by "conservatives" like Tim Rogers of SBC Today to effectively run off the remaining moderates. Under the guise of "unity," Rogers has advocated that congregations in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina should no longer have the option to direct their tithes through the CP to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Is it really UNITY when that unity is only obtained by kicking out non-creedal congregations who actually value authentic Christian cooperation over doctrinal rigidity and conformity?

The old saying goes that the only way to cooperate with a fundamentalist is to OBEY Him.

And to quote German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer: obedience without freedom is slavery.

There is no freedom in fundamentalism. Attempting to cooperate with fundamentalists is indeed admirable. But as long as moderates and progressives continue to retain relationships through state convention's with their fundamentalist brethren - they will always lose.

That's just a sad fact of Baptist life.

Liberal congregations like Myers Park will never have a voice at any Baptist state convention. The exclusion that Myers Park has faced is nothing new. But if committed SBCers like Tim Rogers have their way - even moderates will no longer have a place at the Baptist table in North Carolina.

Sad but not surprising.



Blogger Danny said...

I think you are off on this one. The convention's actions do not violate the automony of this church. The church has determined to be "welcoming AND affirming" of homosexuals and this will not change regardless of what the convention does. The convention has the right to establish its own membership parameters.

6:43 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

I'm not arguing on behalf of Myers Park. Nor am I arguing that their autonomy as been violated. I understand that the convention has the right to establish its own parameters. However, as we are seeing with Tim Rogers' proposed giving plan, "conservatives" will continue to enact policies that will effectively "narrow the parameters of cooperation" even further (to borrow a line from Wade Burleson).

But to reiterate, I do find it sad whenever any congregation with such a rich heritage as Myers Park is disfellowshipped.

7:26 PM


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