My apologies to Kirk Mackie, Senior Pastor at the church in Fullerton.
September 26, 2005
American Baptist Split Grows
by Josh Montez
Hundreds of churches are threatening to leave the denomination over the issue of homosexuality.
Wilshire Avenue Community Church in Fullerton, California is one of 300 churches in the Pacific Southwest region that are in the process of breaking away from the American Baptist Church USA. The denomination is known for being somewhat liberal on the issue of homosexuality but a growing number of local churches in the denomination want to be accountable to what the Bible says about the lifestyle. Mark McCormick pastors Wilshire Avenue Community Church. "We've asked the national church to hold other churches and leaders accountable to what we say is the biblical authority on this issue."
He says national leaders don't see it as their place to insist on a biblical model that says homosexuality is a sin.
"Our fear obviously is that this begins to place us on a slippery slope. If you say that this is not an area of biblical authority that does not allow us to hold people accountable to, what else will come up?"
The Board of Directors for the Pacific Southwest Region agreed to withdraw contributions to the national headquarters by the end of the year. Rich Schramm, a spokesman for the American Baptist Church, says they're sorry to see the locals go.
"We deeply regret the action taken by the ABC of the Pacific Southwest, whom we love in Christ, to begin movement toward withdrawal from the Covenant of Relationships."
But Reverend Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition doesn't think they're sincere.
"It's because they don't believe that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative. That is really the underlying issue."
The West Virginia Convention of the American Baptist Church is considering a departure as well.
I met Lou Sheldon a number of years ago, and was not impressed. He is a caustic, angry man. But I think he's right about "the underlying issue."