Association to try to remove church in closed meeting
April 25 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Association to try to remove church in closed meeting | Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday, April 25, 2003

Association to try to remove church in closed meeting

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

Cabarrus Baptist Association officials plan to close part of the association's bi-annual meeting on April 28 so messengers can consider whether to remove a church that baptized two men believed to be gay.

Randy Wadford, the associational missionary, declined to discuss the move to withdraw fellowship from one of the churches, but said he might release a statement after the meeting.

Steve Ayers, pastor at McGill Baptist Church, confirmed that the church had been notified that a motion would be made that the association withdraw fellowship from the church. The church was notified of the motion in a letter that it received by fax on April 23, he said.

According to a copy of the letter provided to the Recorder by Ayers, association leaders found out that the church accepted and baptized two men who are living "a homosexual lifestyle." The association leaders asked the church to go to the men and ask them if they have made a profession of faith, repented and turned from this lifestyle.

Ayers and other church leaders told the association that the church does not ask persons their sexual preference when they come for membership.

The association asked the church to withdraw from the association, but the church declined.

Church officials told association leaders that the issue was church autonomy, not homosexuality. The association's letter says the association's constitution affirms church autonomy and states that the association "has no authority over the churches, except of an advisory nature."

"The association is not trying to step in and dictate to your church," the letter said. "We, however, as an association do see the need for us to take a stand based on the Scriptures."

The association said in the letter that Romans 1:26-27 teaches that "the homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God's will and plan for mankind."

The association's ministry council and mutual care ministry team will make the motion, according to the letter.

Wadford said anyone who is not a messenger will have to leave the meeting when the issue comes up. He said representatives of the Biblical Recorder would not be allowed to ask messengers to keep the meeting open.

"Technically, you wouldn't have a platform to speak on," he said.

Wadford said a Recorder representative was welcome at the early part of the meeting. Association officials will hold a roll call to make sure no one but messengers are at the later part of the meeting, he said.

Roy J. Smith, former executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention, has been involved with N.C. Baptist life for about 50 years. He has heard of associational committees closing their meetings, but not an entire association.

"I have never heard of it," he said. "So far as I know this will be the first time an association has gone into executive session."

Unless a personnel matter is being discussed, Baptist meetings historically have been open, Smith said.

"Any time you're doing anything in secret you raise suspicions that everything is not above board," he said. "It sure makes me suspicious."

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4/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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