Decision on ‘gay’ couples in church directory delayed

FORT WORTH?Members of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth voted Dec. 2 to delay a decision on whether or not to include homosexual members as couples in a church pictorial directory.
Baptist Press broke the story of the church contention on Nov. 6. Multiple news outlets reported on the church’s decision to refer the matter to the deacons for a recommendation by Feb. 4.

“We do not want to rush to make a decision, but rather to continue to listen to each other and for God’s leading to our church,” Deacon Chairman Kathy Madeja said in a statement. “Our members have diverse opinions about many things, but what we have in common is our love for God, the church and each other.”

Pastor Brett Younger addressed the issue from the pulpit Dec. 2.

In comments drawn from sermon audio posted on the church website, Younger said: “Some of the most committed Christians in our congregation are baffled by this whole episode. They are seeking the best they know how to be faithful to Scripture and follow Jesus. They’ve been taught all of their lives what the Bible says on this issue, and those who read the Scripture in a different way don’t seem to be taking the Bible seriously.

“The verses in Leviticus seem straightforward on homosexuality. How can the majority opinion throughout 2,000 years of church history suddenly be wrong? It’s hard for these gracious Christians to understand how anyone could disagree.”

“But there are other thoughtful Christians who feel differently,” Younger continued. “They are seeking the best they know how to be faithful to Scripture and follow Jesus. They know the Bible has been used to defend polygamy, slavery and the oppression of women. We look at the compassion of Jesus and the way that he included everybody and it seems clear that we should do the same. How can anyone who knows Jesus believe God condemns people for the way they were born? It’s hard for these gracious Christians to understand how anyone could disagree.”

Inevitably, some church members would be disappointed, Younger said, but hope lies in Jesus and in realizing the battle belongs to God. In the end, God’s people will “serve together in the unity of God’s diversity,” he said.

Younger closed by saying that some day “we will be set free to live with compassion and kindness” and “celebrate the truth that there is no one beyond the love of God, no one who is not a cherished child of God, no one for whom Jesus did not die, and no one who is not welcome at this table. We long for the day that God will make everything right.”

The church is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Tarrant Baptist Association and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

In a statement to the church in October, Younger praised how Broadway had handled the issue of homosexuality among church members.

“Broadway has for years had an amazing policy on including gay people. It’s not a policy that a committee came up with, or the staff or the deacons. It’s an unwritten policy that came out of the shared life of this congregation, a policy I believe was inspired by the Spirit,” he said. “This church has for a long time included both gay people who are committed to Christ and members who aren’t affirming and who have serious questions, but who are willing to share the church. This has allowed us to be a congregation where the conversation can take place about being gay and being Christians.”

A former Broadway pastor was involved in bringing Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to Fort Worth, but in recent decades the church has been led by Baptist moderates. Cecil Sherman, the first executive director of the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, came to that post after serving as pastor at Broadway from 1985-92.

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