Southern Baptist denomination severs ties with DC Baptists over homosexuality

DCNFJoshua Gill, DCNF

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) cut relational and financial ties with the D.C. Baptist Convention (DCBC) for refusing to disfellowship a church with two lesbian pastors.

The Executive Committee of the SBC issued a warning to the DCBC in February in which the D.C. convention was given 90 days to remove any church in its fellowship that “practice affirming, approving or endorsing homosexual behavior,” according to Baptist Press.

The executive committee gave the warning specifically with regard to Calvary Baptist Church, which affirmed a lesbian couple as co-pastors in 2017, according to Juicy Ecumenism. The D.C. Baptist Convention failed to comply with the SBC’s warning as of May 21 and has therefore been disfellowshipped.

“The formal relationship between the SBC and the DCBC has come to an end,” read a statement from interim Executive Committee president D. August Boto, according to Baptist Press.

Boto told Baptist Press that the EC at its February meeting “expressed deep regret over the need to take this action, but felt compelled to affirm biblical truth over organizational relationships.”

With the severing of its relationship with the SBC, the DCBC lost its authorization “to receive and disburse Cooperative Program and other SBC contributions,” effectively cutting it off from SBC financial support and other aid.

Calvary Baptist Church publicly broke with the SBC in 2012, but because it remained in fellowship with the DCBC, the church remained connected to the larger denominational convention despite their major theological differences.

“Despite our long-standing ties to the Southern Baptist Convention, Calvary has for some time been at odds with many of the policies and public positions of the SBC,” wrote Rev. Amy Butler for the Washington Post. “There have been many specific issues, like a rejection of the ordination of women, for example, over which we disagreed. But increasingly these differences became more foundational.”

Boto, upon hearing from DCBC executive director Robert Cochran in a May 21 letter that the convention had not taken any action to remove homosexuality-affirming churches from its fellowship, issued a reply to formally end the relationship between the two conventions. He said that he would soon send letters to each of the eight churches in the DCBC that have maintained financial connections to the SBC, informing them that those ties would no longer continue.

“I will soon send another letter to each of eight churches we know of in DC that are supporting SBC work through financial gifts directed through the DCBC. The letters will inform each group that the formal relationship between the SBC and the DCBC has come to an end and that, beginning [May 21], the SBC no longer recognizes the District of Columbia Baptist Convention as a Baptist body authorized to receive and disburse Cooperative Program and other SBC contributions,” Boto said, according to Baptist Press.

The SBC did not rule out the possibility of the DCBC’s future return to the fold, but stipulated that such a return was only possible in the event that either the convention disfellowships Calvary Baptist, or that Calvary Baptist repents of its actions.

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