Church removed from association
April 29 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Church removed from association | Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Church removed from association

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

CONCORD - Cabarrus Baptist Association officially removed McGill Baptist Church in Concord during the association's bi-annual meeting on April 28. Messengers voted 250-11 with seven abstentions to withdraw fellowship from the church for baptizing two men believed to be gay.

The sanctuary at Southside Baptist Church in Concord was filled to overflowing for the meeting.

Concord fire officials limited the number of people inside the church sanctuary to 290. About 30 others had to watch the proceedings by video in the church fellowship hall.

The Recorder and other members of the press were kept out of the entire meeting even though association officials had earlier told a Recorder representative that the paper would be welcome at most of the meeting, but would have to leave when removal of the church was being discussed.

It is believed to be the first time a N.C. Baptist association has met behind closed doors.

Randy Wadford, the association's director of missions, said Roberts Rules of Order called for the meeting to be closed because it was dealing with membership issues.

Reporters from three newspapers and three television stations waited outside the church sanctuary for the meeting to end. The entire meeting lasted more than two and a half hours. The closed portion lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.

Near the end of the closed session, about 10 members of McGill who were not allowed in because the church's limit of 10 messengers was already inside gathered on the church lawn to wait.

Steve Ayers, pastor of McGill, said the action was about fundamentalism, not Baptist heritage.

"The kingdom of God is about love. It's about God's grace. It's about showing that grace," he said. "When any church becomes so judgmental that they cannot accept people into the fellowship, it's sad."

Wadford said the move was not fundamentalism.

"This association has spent the last 10 years that I've been here in a positive light, moving ahead," he said, noting that the association has grown from 69 to 81 churches in that time.

"Our outreach is to everyone. No one in this building had a problem with homosexuals who would have come and joined any of our churches if the lifestyle had changed. The issue was lifestyle."

Wadford said the association would have taken similar action if a church baptized someone who continued to be an alcoholic.

"Sin is sin, if it's alcoholic, if it's adultery, if it's any other sin," he said.

Wadford said that when he was a pastor he would not allow a couple who were living together but not married to join his church unless they repented of their lifestyle.

Wadford said a homosexual person is welcome to attend association churches, but not join.

"Joining a Baptist church means a person has repented of their sin, accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord," he said.

Ayers said repentance is turning toward Christ.

"I'm not their judge, but I can tell you the people who joined our church are living a very Christ-like life," he said.

In a prepared statement, Wadford said the New Testament teaches that the homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God's will and plan for mankind.

"Therefore, Cabarrus Baptist Association must take a stand against any of our churches supporting or condoning this lifestyle," he said. "To allow individuals into the membership of a local church without evidence or testimony of true repentance (a turning away from the old way of living) is to condone the old lifestyle."

Ayers said the church would not ask people their sexual preference before allowing them to join the church.

"If we throw the sinners out, there's not a church that's going to be open next week," he said.

Ayers said the church believes the word of God.

"Yet we also understand that the Holy Spirit works within us and the Holy Spirit gives us the wonderful ability to recognize the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives," he said. "McGill Baptist believes the word of God, we preach the word of God every Sunday, and our people live the word of God."

The association's constitution says the association "shall not maintain fellowship with any church that departs from Southern Baptist faith and practice and fails to maintain a spirit of cooperation with the Association," Wadford said.

"McGill Baptist Church has chosen to allow into its membership persons who continue to live a homosexual lifestyle, which is contrary to the teachings of Scripture," he said. "Therefore, the spirit of cooperation with the association has been broken and out of a heart of sadness and regret we must withdraw fellowship at this time."

Ayers said the issue was an emotional one.

"It seems to me that we have more of a problem with sexual sins than any other," he said. "I think the real problem is a problem of power. The sin of power is usually what's at the heart of it."

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4/29/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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