A Los Angeles-area Southern Baptist pastor has said he believes homosexual acts are not always sinful, leading to a split in his church and leaving some Southern Baptists wondering whether the Southern Baptist Convention will withdraw fellowship from the congregation.
“I recently revealed to the elders that I have changed my stance on homosexuality,” Danny Cortez, pastor of New Heart Community Church said in a Feb. 9 sermon posted on YouTube that gained national attention through a blog post at patheos.com on May 29 and one by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. on June 2.
Cortez acknowledged that his endorsement of homosexuality “is a radical shift from the longstanding belief of our church. This is a radical shift from our statement of faith, aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Article III of the SBC Constitution states, “Among churches not in friendly cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.” The SBC Executive Committee is monitoring developments in the New Heart situation and could consider the matter during its September or February meetings. Depending on how the facts unfold, the EC could also make a recommendation regarding New Heart to the 2015 annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
One complicating factor in a potential withdrawal of fellowship is that New Heart is classified as a “mission” rather than as an independent church in Southern Baptists’ Annual Church Profile database. But that classification was apparently reported years ago, making it difficult to ascertain whether New Heart ever formally constituted as a church. Even if it turns out that New Heart is still a mission, Fermin Whittaker, executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention told Religion News Service that “the parent church had no knowledge of the changes happening.”
New Heart did not respond to Baptist Press’ request for comments.
Some New Heart members believed Cortez’s position is unbiblical and thought he should be terminated, a letter from Cortez posted at patheos.com said. According to Cortez, the congregation voted May 18 not to dismiss him. Instead it opted to become a “Third Way” church that will “agree to disagree and not cast judgment on one another,” Cortez wrote.
Earlier this month, a group of church members who believe homosexuality is unbiblical reportedly separated from New Heart.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press