May 25th, 2010 at 10:21 am
DALLAS – The Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board voted to no longer accept funds from Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas and asked the church to discontinue identifying itself with the convention.
In the action, the board agreed to return all funds received from the church since Jan. 1. Congregation members are no longer eligible to serve on the convention’s staff or to be elected by the convention for membership of boards and committees.
The move takes place after the publication of a March 6 article in the Dallas Morning News, which identified the church as “coming out of the closet” and indicated the congregation has ordained practicing homosexuals as deacons. Shortly after, church and convention leaders met about the information in the article.
Following those meetings, the convention escrowed funds the church had sent to the convention since the start of the year and asked the church to stop identifying itself with the convention. The board’s executive committee recommended that stance be continued. The board approved the recommendation overwhelmingly.
“This situation has been painful, but it has not been difficult for me,” Texas Baptists Executive Director Randel Everett said to the board.
Everett said the recommendation is painful because he respects Royal Lane and its leadership. The convention and church have worked together in ministry.
But the action upholds the biblical stand the convention consistently has held, Everett noted. On numerous occasions, the convention has described homosexual behavior as sinful. In 1998, the BGCT Executive Board took the same action with University Baptist Church in Austin, which also ordained homosexual deacons.
In the discussion before the vote, Executive Board Member Doug Washington, a member of Royal Lane Baptist Church, urged to board to vote against the action. He acknowledged that the church has ordained homosexuals as deacons. He also asked if other churches question every new church member about their sexual activity. Washington indicated the church would like to continue its relationship with the convention.
“We truly support the BGCT,” he said. “We love the BGCT.”
Several board members voiced that a stand must be taken. Ordination is a key marker, and Baptist life and the Bible calls church leaders to a higher standard, board members said.
“I think where we need to draw the line is when they are elected to a leadership position,” said Leonardo Diaz, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Hitchcock.
The executive board meeting was filled with stories of how the hope of Christ is pervading the state, particularly through efforts connected with Texas Hope 2010, an effort to share the gospel with every Texan by Easter 2010.
A group of small Dallas-area congregations provided more than 2,000 multimedia gospel compact discs to patients in the Baylor Health System in Dallas and Collin counties. A young Amarillo boy embraced the hope of Christ when he picked up and watched a gospel compact disc.
Members of First Baptist Church in White House recently discovered a group of hungry children and began providing free meals for them on the weekends. Eleven San Angelo churches and 25 San Antonio churches have stepped up to do likewise for local children this summer.
In Houston, churches reached out to Bhutanese refugees, many of whom have never heard the gospel, through a festival.
“The ceremony was a lot of fun,” said Texas Baptists Director of Intercultural Ministries Patty Lane. “It was loud. It was creative. It was fun. But most of all, it was the gospel.”
Iglesia Bautista High Pointe baptized 20 people in April alone. Grand Baptist Church in Amarillo baptized two people this year, more than it has in years. And each week, Baptists share the gospel in more than 50 languages.
“It’s amazing what God’s people can do when they get a vision of what God wants to do,” said Texas Baptists Associate Executive Director Steve Vernon.