By Melanie Nathan, February 25, 2012,
In an article by Jim Warren posted on Kentucky.com, Lexington’s Central Baptist Church withdrew from the Elkhorn Baptist Association after its minister’s supportive position on gay and lesbian issues was questioned by a pastor in another association church.
The article goes on to note that Rev. Mark Johnson, pastor at Central Baptist, said his church unanimously decided to split from the association in December. Johnson said the move stemmed from questions raised over comments he placed on his blog last fall suggesting that Jesus would have been supportive of gay and lesbian people.
Central Baptist Church’s decision is drawing praise from the Kentucky Equality Federation, an advocacy group for gays and lesbians.
Federation president Jordan Palmer said in a statement, “We need more churches like this across the commonwealth. Everyone’s relationship with God is personal and not for any one person or any association of churches to condemn or frown on.”
The Elkhorn Baptist Association, includes more than 80 Baptist churches in Lexington and Central Kentucky. Johnson said events leading to the split began in October, when the Rev. David Prince, pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, wrote to the Elkhorn Baptist Association membership committee questioning statements Johnson made Sept. 23 on his blog, in a post: “Who Stole Jesus,” where he applauded a church in Indianapolis that believes Christ “would be a strong advocate and defender of equal rights for all persons, including those in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.”
Supposedly once outside the doctrine of the Association one is disqualified and so Elkhorn’s Prince commented “A church sadly and tragically disqualifies itself by certain practices, conduct, preaching or doctrine contrary to the doctrinal statement,” Prince said. “In my mind, that alone at least clarified that the pastor (at Central Baptist) was outside the bounds of our shared doctrinal commitment.”
And so it seems that clearly said not all of God’s children are welcome in Kentucky if the Baptists of Elkhorn have anything to do with it; after all if there was no Church such as Johnson’s, affirming of all God’s creation, then gay and lesbian community Baptists would have nowhere to go in Kentucky and why am I not surprised?
Back in 2010 I was contacted by a destitute lesbian couple living out of a motel room in Kentucky, together with the family dogs and a young teen. They had run out off money. They were hungry, had one night left and they did not have the 50 cents needed to purchase a tampon at the hotel.
They knocked on the doors of numerous of these churches and were told to leave because they were lesbians. Other than Kentucky Equality Federation, no one in Kentucky offered any help, to the point where I provided my own debit card to the hotel manager and a neighboring restaurant and solicited some of my friends nationwide, who chipped in too. The couple was on the verge of having to head into the fields to sleep at the time and it seems that the so called Elkhorn Church doctrine excluded them from Christ’s appointed mercy keepers!
While Johnson said in a statement that Central Baptist was faced with a choice of “should we fight to stay or graciously and quietly just go,” there may be some uncertainty as to whether the question was properly examined at all. It seems odd to me that Johnson would want to be associated with a Church that does not truly embrace all of its flock. It seems to me that Johnson may well be in a position where he can start Christ’s real work – one that is all inclusive, just like his blog had suggested.
“When we were informed that one church was perhaps asking the membership committee to look into what was going on, we felt that given the nature of how Baptists go about this, it probably wouldn’t be a very nice experience,” Johnson said. “We just felt, since we’d left the other two organizations, maybe it was time to leave the third.”
Johnson said Central Baptist wanted to be “identified as an open and inviting fellowship for God’s people.”
Call to Reader Action:
Kentucky Equality federation has its work cut out for them, in a region that has so few allies. Please visit their website page at http://www.kyequality.org/ and see if there is a way that you can contribute to their extraordinary work.
Original story sources here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/02/16/2071697/pastors-support-of-gays-lesbians.html#storylink=cpy