October 19, 2005
West Virginia Baptists may break with national group over homosexuality
About 1,000 American Baptists from across West Virginia will meet in Clarksburg for their annual two-day convention, which begins Tuesday. About 500 delegates are expected to vote on a major issue on Wednesday when they consider a proposal by West Virginia Baptists for Biblical Truth to split from the American Baptist Churches-USA over the denomination's perceived insufficient opposition to homosexuality. About 70 churches have said they support the resolution.
"I don't think it brings any honor or glory to have battles like this," said David Carrico, executive minister of the West Virginia Baptist Convention. "We need to work together to ensure accountability."
Carrico said the West Virginia Baptist Convention addressed the issue in 1991, when delegates voted for a resolution that said homosexuality was not an acceptable Christian lifestyle. American Baptist churches have the same policy, he said.
But Jay Wolfe, chairman of the West Virginia coalition, said he believes the American Baptist leadership has deceived West Virginians. "They've allowed this problem to fester and get worse over the years," Wolfe said. "They've quieted the issue and haven't taken it to the laypeople in the pews."
West Virginia Baptists for Biblical Truth is following Baptist churches in the Pacific Southwest, which announced plans earlier this year to break from the American Baptist Churches-USA for a failure to implement a declaration that same-sex relationships are incompatible with Christianity.
The Pacific Southwest Region said some churches with liberal stands on homosexuality have not been properly disciplined. But a national committee said the church does not set policy for any of its 5,800 congregations because each is autonomous. West Virginia is the largest of 35 regions in the American Baptist Churches-USA, with 465 churches.
With 1.5 million members, American Baptist Churches-USA is smaller and more moderate on gay issues than the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention. (AP)
My impression is that the AP reporter underestimates the momentum in WV. Also, the vote itself is only to initiate an investigatory process. Don't let the MSM (MainStream Media) reports fool you on this.