A church in California has decided to reject the Southern Baptist Convention’s official position on homosexuality after a pastor told members that his son was gay.
In a letter to Christianity with Humanity blogger John Shore last week, New Heart Community Church pastor Danny Cortez explained how a conversation about Macklemore’s pro-LGBT song ”Same Love” had prompted his son to come out to him last fall.
Cortez told his son that he had change his views on homosexuality just months before.
“I couldn’t help but think that my 15 year journey was in preparation for that moment,” he wrote. “If it wasn’t for this 15 year journey and my change in theology, I may have destroyed my son through reparative therapy.”
After telling his congregation that he no longer believed homosexuality was a sin, the congregation voted on May 19 not to dismiss Cortez. Instead, the church members elected to become a “Third Way” church that withholds judgement against LGBT members.
“So now, we will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship,” he explained. “We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgement. We will work towards graceful dialogue in the midst of theological differences.”
But many members of the church refused to accept the decision, and plan to “peacefully” separate from the church on June 8.
Cortez’s letter comes just days before the the Southern Baptist Convention could vote to exclude New Heart Community Church at its scheduled in Baltimore later this week. According to the official Baptist Faith and Message adopted by the convention in 2000, “Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.”
The convention’s Constitution states that “churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”
For his part, Cortez said that he hopes for reconciliation with the church.
“I pray that the church will no longer be segregated,” he explained. “I pray that those who have been marginalized would feel safe in our churches. I pray that we as the church would set aside our difference and learn what it means to be the body of Christ.”
Watch a coming out video by Pastor Cortez’s son, Drew.
Watch Pastor Cortez explain how he came to believe homosexuality was not a sin.
[Ed. note: This report has been updated with the correct link to John Shore's to Christianity with Humanity blog.]