Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Baptist Covenant and Exclusion

I was surprised to hear that the new Baptist Covenant decided that in the interest of unity they would excluded the participation of two 'pro-gay' groups. (Story Here) The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB) and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America were told that they could not participate as groups, but that they could be present as individuals. This is surprisingly similar to the reasoning and language used to describe the participation of individual Southern Baptist churches and individuals, but not the convention as a whole. The difference being the Southern Baptist Convention doesn't want to be a part of it as a group and these two 'pro-gay' groups want to. Now I am not sure why I should be surprised, but I always hear the non-SBC Baptists talk about how they really believe in church autonomy and the beauty of our ability to participate with each other where we can, while respecting difference when necessary. If this is true why can't two 'pro-gay' groups think Jesus was on target when he preached his first sermon in Luke 4 (the theme for the whole event)? No 'pro-gay' group would come expecting that everyone there would agree with them, but that everyone present wants to cooperate in diversity to seriously follow the vision Jesus casts in Luke 4. Why can't groups who are not 'pro-gay' be as Baptist as the 'pro-gay' groups and come to celebrate and cooperate around the message of Jesus?

The New Baptist Covenant has posted the themes of the plenary sessions:
Unity in Seeking Peace with Justice
Unity in Bringing Good News to the Poor
Unity in Respecting Diversity
Unity in Welcoming the Stranger
Unity in Setting the Captive Free

Does anything stick out as odd if both our more conservative and 'pro gay' sisters and brothers in Christ can't be present as the groups they represent?

1 comment:

Tim Ratzlaff said...

"[W]hile everyone thinks that [sexuality] is a topic of grave concern – it is a topic that needs lots of discussion and prayer – it was not a part of the stated agenda from the beginning," said Stanford, according to the ABP. "And so I think a lot of the North American [Baptist] leaders thought that his would be changing the agreed-upon terms.”

And now, after this article, their rejection has become a stated "agenda" and "terms" for their group.