ThinkProgress reports that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) voted unanimously to “disfellowship” New Heart Community Church after its pastor announced that he had changed his views on homosexuality.
Last May, Danny Cortez told his congregation that he would be accepting “the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship,” explaining that “we will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgment [and] work towards graceful dialogue in the midst of theological differences.” His decision was motivated, he said, by a 2013 discussion with his son about Macklemore’s pro-LGBT song “Same Love” that prompted his son to come out.
New Heart Community Church voted in May to become a “third way” church, one in which the congregation agrees not to judge each other over their deeply held theological convictions about homosexuality. However, the SBC’s Executive Committee said that New Heart Community Church “does not presently meet the definition of a cooperating church,” because the SBC’s guidelines explicitly prohibit congregations from acting “to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”
Because of the Executive Committee’s judgment, “messengers from the [New Heart Community] church should not be seated until such time as the Convention determines that the church has unambiguously demonstrated its friendly cooperation with the Convention as defined in the Convention’s constitution.”
Roger S. Oldham, Executive Committee vice president for convention communications and relations, told the Baptist News that the committee had no choice.
“Following the lead of pastor Danny Cortez, New Heart Community Church has walked away from the Southern Baptist Convention’s clearly-expressed core biblical values,” he said.
“It is deeply distressing and causes great sorrow when a fellow pastor or sister church departs from the teachings we believe the Bible clearly states. Just as this local church has chosen to establish its own framework of belief, the convention has chosen to set the parameters of what constitutes being in friendly cooperation with the SBC. In making this determination today, the SBC Executive Committee acted on its core convictions of biblical truth.”
Executive Committee president Frank Page added that “this action does not reflect a lack of love for homosexuals…But when you love someone, you tell them the truth about their actions. By its action on behalf of the convention, the Executive Committee is telling New Heart that its failure to condemn homosexuality breaks the heart of God.”