Dan Summerlin, chairman of the Kentucky Baptist Convention Mission Board's Administrative Committee, speaks to a recommendation that churches contributing to the CBF be declared "no longer ... in friendly cooperation" with the KBC. Photo by Myriah Snyder
Kentucky convention seeks break from CBF donor churches
The Western Recorder
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – The Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) Mission Board took a step May 8 toward distancing KBC churches from congregations that contribute to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), a missions network they say has given an appearance of approving homosexual behavior.
Acting on a recommendation by their Committee on Credentials, Mission Board members endorsed a recommendation that churches making financial contributions to the CBF are "no longer considered to be in cooperation" with the convention.
The recommendation will be presented to messengers during the KBC Annual Meeting in November.
Last year at the KBC annual meeting, a motion was made from the convention floor that was referred to the credentials committee, Dan Summerlin, chairman of the KBC Administrative Committee, recounted. The committee has worked on a motion that will be submitted to convention messengers in November, he said.
Although it was not required, the credentials committee brought their recommendation to the Administrative Committee "out of respect" and wanting its feedback, said Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah. "[T]hey want us to be informed and make it stronger by saying 'yes' from the state board."
On an FAQ sheet distributed to Mission Board members, the Committee on Credentials cited an article in the KBC constitution which indicates "churches which act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior" are to be deemed "not to be in cooperation with the Convention."
"Churches that contribute to a missions network that is approving of homosexual behavior give appearance of approving of such behavior," the committee stated.
In February, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's governing board changed the organization's hiring policies to open employment for various CBF positions. Approximately 80 percent of CBF national office positions may now be open to LGBT applicants, including five of 11 positions on its national leadership team, the credentials committee noted.
Churches that are dually aligned with KBC and CBF are now supporting an LGBT affirming network and funding the employment of LGBT persons," the committee stated. Asserting that the CBF is "at odds with biblical teaching," the document cites Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:27, as well as The Baptist Faith and Message statement.
Committee members and KBC staff have reached out to every church listed by the CBF as a partnering church to be sure they were aware of the CBF's new hiring policy and sought their input before endorsing the motion.
KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood, who was elected to serve as president of the International Mission Board Nov. 15, said the move by messengers should be seen as "a call to those congregations to safeguard biblical teaching and maintain their historic relationships, understanding that the Bible speaks clearly on the issue of homosexuality and that they would not want to support groups that embrace unscriptural lifestyles."
"The committee has been highly committed to communicating with these churches, to doing everything that we can to maintain relationship with these churches, have conversations with these churches, in the hopes that churches potentially impacted by this motion would remove themselves from cooperation with the CBF, given the CBF's action," Chitwood told Mission Board members. "We've already seen several of those churches do that, just because of the first contact," he said.
The move could affect approximately 25 KBC-affiliated churches that have given financial support to KBC in the past two years and are currently providing financial support to the CBF. An additional 13 churches that have not supported KBC in at least three years also are listed as CBF partnering churches.
If approved by messengers to the annual meeting in Pikeville, the committee will again reach out to the churches to see if they plan to continue providing financial support to the CBF, Chitwood said. Individuals could choose to send donations directly to the CBF, instead of asking their churches to forward their gifts for them, the committee suggested.
Todd Deaton is editor of the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.