NEW Pastor insists lending space to ‘affirming’ fellowship doesn’t constitute endorsement

BAYTOWN, Texas–The pastor of a church removed from membership in the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) and two Baptist associations said his relationship to a homosexual-affirming ministry does not constitute an endorsement of homosexuality.

In a unanimous vote on Jan. 23, San Jacinto Baptist Association joined South Texas Baptist Association and SBTC in cutting ties with Faith Harbour of Baytown, the association’s director of missions, L. Lee Walker, stated in an e-mail to SBTC.

On the church’s Internet “blog” Jan. 22, after meeting with Walker, Faith Harbour Pastor Randy Haney wrote, “I understand the position the Association is taking” regarding Haney’s and Faith Harbour’s connection with Eklektos community—a ministry that launched in December and held its first meeting at Faith Harbour’s leased facility.

Faith Harbour also had allowed promotion of Eklektos on its blog, something San Jacinto Association cited in its reasons for judging Faith Harbour’s participation with Eklektos, in effect, an affirmation of homosexuality.

 

In comments to the Southern Baptist Texan and in published reports in the Baytown Sun and the Associated Press, Haney said he believes homosexuality is sinful–a stance contrary to the leader of Eklektos, ordained Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) minister Wendy Bailey.

Bailey told the Baytown Sun Jan. 19: “This ministry is willing to leave in that tension (concerning homosexuality). Our perspective is we want to create a place where people can come to Scripture and can discover truth for themselves without any prejudged sense of what that is.”

Bailey is the associate general presbyter for Evangelism, Renewal and New Church Development of the New Covenant Presbytery based in Houston, the presbytery’s staff listings show.

Eklektos held its first meeting in December in a storefront space Faith Harbour leases and has a link on Faith Harbour’s blog, although Haney told the Texan he doesn’t believe that constitutes affirmation or endorsement of homosexuality.

Further, Haney said Eklektos is not a church, contrary to what the Texan reported earlier, and Bailey, on the Eklektos blog, said Eklektos “is not a ‘church’ in any official capacity.”

“Number one, I do not affirm the homosexual lifestyle,” Haney told the Texan. “Homosexuality is part of the sinful nature. It is listed, as are many other sins that are acts of the sinful nature. However, I do not hate people who are in that lifestyle. I have friends who are in that lifestyle and they know my stance.”

He added, “Wendy (Bailey) and I differ on that.”

In its correspondence to the SBTC, San Jacinto Association stated its board “removed from our association roll (Faith Harbour) due to Baker Road Baptist Church, Baytown, withdrawing sponsorship of Faith Harbour and because of their embracing the Eklektos ministry which affirms the homosexual lifestyle.”

In an action completed Jan. 12, the SBTC Executive Board voted unanimously to disaffiliate Faith Harbour after the convention’s credentials committee, meeting with Haney Dec. 20, failed to persuade Haney to disavow involvement with Eklektos.

The SBTC bylaws state, “… Among churches not in cooperation with Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”

Rix Tillman, pastor of Exciting Immanuel Baptist Church in El Paso and a credentials committee member, said Haney unconvincingly tried to argue to the committee that because Eklektos—a Greek word meaning “chosen” or “elect”—is not technically a church, no constitutional problem existed.

“The sticking point was that he was allowing a homosexual-affirming fellowship to meet in his building,” Tillman said.

“Right there on their website they said we are an enabling or affirming (fellowship). It’s OK to say you welcome homosexuals, but they were saying we not only welcome them but we also go along to affirm them. That was open and shut as far as our (SBTC) constitution goes.”

Baker Road Baptist Church of Baytown, the sponsor of Faith Harbour for the last four years, voted Jan. 8 to cut ties with the congregation. Faith Harbour was a member of San Jacinto Association by virtue of its sponsorship through Baker Road, Walker said.

“One cannot be presenting the life-changing gospel to homosexuals and the same time affirm the lifestyle,” SBTC board chairman Joe Stewart said after the SBTC action last month. “When we sign an agreement to be a part of the SBTC, we have those theological parameters that we live and abide through that is part of what makes us unique and distinct.”

“The door is still open for (Faith Harbor) to reconcile if they will just agree to abide by the theological parameters of SBTC. Although we want to reach out to people caught in sin, at the same time we can’t affirm the lifestyle.”

The Eklektos website states: “This community of Christians is especially called to welcome and affirm people who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered. We are a diverse group of disciples—diverse in age, race, gender, ideology and sexual orientation. We are united in Christ and in the affirmation that all people are loved and called by Christ to be His disciples and to be a part of His healing/reconciling work in the world.”

 

 

TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
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