From the Executive Director
I am deeply saddened by recent decision of the Pacific Southwest Region to pull away from the ABC-USA (http://www.christiancentury.org/article.lasso?id=1282, http://www.abpnews.com/news/news_detail.cfm?).
I am disappointed in the region's professed rationale of "irreconcilable” convictions and values. As Baptists we have long believed that it is possible in the grace of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit for people to strongly disagree and to embrace one another in love. In fact, the very diversity we share among the membership of the ABCUSA exemplifies the essence and history of long-held and cherished Baptist principles of freedom and autonomy. I am troubled that this divisive decision by the PSW devalues and disregards these most fundamental Baptist beliefs. One of our great Baptist leaders, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned the beloved community in which all people embrace the otherness of those with whom they disagree. To that end we have accomplished much in our communities and throughout the world in the “common concerns of gospel ministry” that the PSW claims we share in the ABCUSA. Although the PSW states that its ministry and mission will thrive more strongly outside the tension of differing beliefs among its fellow Baptists, I belief that this is the wrong message for Christians and as Baptists to send in world that needs to see the unity of people bound by the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
At the crux of the PSW decision lies what I find to be most sad, and that is the immediate and the long-term impact their actions will have on God's dearly loved LesBiGayTrans people. Will they not interpret this as one more reason to stay away from church, one more reason to avoid people who call themselves "Christians?" If so, then I find today to be a sad day in the history of a glorious Baptist body who has welcomed, affirmed, and celebrated the myriad creations and gifts among us expressed in the good works of life-changing, world-wide ministries.
Today, I firmly believe Jesus weeps with his LGBT brothers and sisters over this decision. Jesus grieves that convictions have triumphed over compassion and like-mindedness has prevailed over love.
[Since when are convictions and compassion at odds? Bizarre thought process...]
I regret that our sisters and brothers have chosen to make the issue of sexual orientation a reason to break fellowship with a denomination that has a long and proud history of mission and ministry in the world. The PSW is making this the watershed issue and by doing so are cutting themselves off from the very things that make people respect religious institutions -- like doing justice and compassion.Grace and Peace,