September 30, 2005
American Baptist Church Retraction
by Josh Montez
ABC position on homosexuality misrepresented.
Earlier this week Family News in Focus ran a story on the American Baptist Church splitting over homosexuality. We focused on the nearly 300 ABC churches in the Pacific Southwest Region that plan to pull away from the national church. Those leaving want the national church to hold local churches accountable on the topic but what we failed to mention is that the national church is refusing because of the Baptist tradition of autonomy. ABCUSA spokesman Rich Schramm."The perception here in Valley Forge is that the maintenance, the governance, if you will, of the denomination really takes place at the local church and regional level and I think that's where the issue is at this point."
ABC Pastor Rick Hamme from Delaware says there is no question where American Baptists stand on homosexuality.
"In 1992, the American Baptist Churches USA came out with a general board policy statement. It said "We affirm that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The Pacific Southwest Region unfortunately has come to the conclusion that it should be implemented from the top down."
He says the ABC resolution that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching is binding for the national staff only.
With all due respect, I think Josh Montez was hoodwinked by Schramm et al. What must be noted is that there is no will to implement the 1992 policy on the program board level, and the the Welcoming and Affirming supporters are strongly represented on staff at Valley Forge.
Beyond that, remember that homosexuality is only the "presenting issue" (Scott Gibson's phrase) of the underlying gap in theology and values between the Biblical heart of the denomination and the revisionist "left" who dominate at Valley Forge and their befuddled sympathizers.