FIRST, HERE'S THE STORY, as reported in the MSM (Mainstream Media):
In opening arms to gays, Woodside Church cast from state Baptist group
THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
By George Jaksagjaksa@flintjournal.com
Woodside Church banished
A 10-county Baptist group has voted to sever ties with Woodside Church over its acceptance of gays.
If the ouster sticks, Woodside would be the first American Baptist Church USA in Michigan disaffiliated over homosexuality.
FLINT - Woodside Church has become the first Baptist church in the state to be disaffiliated with area Baptists because of its stand on homosexuality.
By a vote of 18-3, churches in a 10-county area that are members of the American Baptist Churches USA have elected to sever all ties with Woodside, Flint's oldest Baptist church.
The action will be presented to American Baptist USA churches in Michigan on Sept. 9 for affirmation.
The Rev. Ray A. Strawser II, treasurer of the North Area Executive Committee, said member churches voted to "dis-fellowship" Woodside after five Flint-area Baptist churches objected to Woodside's open stand toward homosexuality and the congregation's decision in May to join the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.
"We are American Baptists who believe homosexuality is incompatible with biblical teaching," said Strawser, pastor of First Baptist Church in Owosso.
The action did not come as a surprise to the 275-member congregation of Woodside, 1508 E. Court St.
"We anticipated that this would happen," said the Rev. Deborah Kohler, pastor of Woodside.
Kohler said the decision won't affect the church's Baptist foundation, even though it might be forced to seek affiliation with a Baptist group in another state if the Michigan church bans it.
"There is nothing they can do to keep us from being Baptists," said Kohler. "We can find other churches to connect with."
Woodside also is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.
Woodside's view toward homosexuals is well-known. About five years ago, it took a formal stand of openness to all without regard to sexual orientation.
"We believe Jesus, as we know him and understand him through the Gospels, teaches us to love everyone just as they are without judgment," Kohler said.
Strawser said that even if Woodside is kicked out of the American Baptist Church at the September regional meeting, it can still affiliate with other Baptist groups in the U.S.
He said churches in California have affiliated with churches in Wisconsin, and one in Ohio joined a Rochester, N.Y., association.
Woodside also could appeal the state decision to the U.S. American Baptist Church, he said.
Jack LeSage, an openly gay Woodside member, said he was disappointed with the decision that came after a series of meetings, including one with Woodside members.
"Woodside has been a very positive, supportive and welcoming and affirming congregation," LeSage said.
Miriam Schaefer, a Woodside member who has been a Baptist for all of her 88 years, also supports the church's position on homosexuals.
"I don't think Jesus would kick them out," Schaefer said. "They are our brothers and sisters. If they want to be members of our church and support us, we shouldn't say no to them."
Strawser said that in the 1940s, a church was kicked out of American Baptist Churches USA for a different reason, but Woodside would be the first over the homosexual issue.
American Baptist Churches USA has 1.5 million members with 5,800 churches in America.
OK, now here's the $64 question. In the current environment, with the PSW debacle as a fresh wound, will Valley Forge continue the insane attack on local accountibility to associations and regions by allowing Woodside to find a home with say ABC of WI, or will they respect the action of the association? Watch this story carefully. My guess is they will continue to trash local accountibility based on precedence and an arrogance that will not be restrained by the puny action of what they view as Michigander yokels. Michigan! Ohio! West Virginia! Indiana! Take notice! The Empire will strike back!