University Baptist Church has formally withdrawn from the Baptist General Convention of Texas after the Waco church’s leadership voted to allow same-sex marriage.
While the withdrawal was voluntary, the last Waco church to leave the convention was expelled after it changed its policies to formally welcome LGBTQ members. University Baptist’s vote was twofold. Leaders took one vote to allow its pastors to decide individually whether they would perform the marriages and a second vote to open the church building to same-sex ceremonies. The church announced its decision May 21 on its blog.
“Though it is not our polity at UBC to take congregational votes, In January we said that it was our aim to come to our best collective theological conclusions on these decisions, and so it is important to share that our votes were consistent with both congregational and pastoral feedback,” the announcement states. “We know that for some this announcement comes with great joy and we sit with and among you today.”
Church leaders deliberated for four months before putting the issue to a vote, said Rebekah Kimminau, who attends University Baptist with her fiancee, Anna McFarland.
“They wanted every member of the congregation to feel heard, so it didn’t feel that sudden,” Kimminau said. “January was when the process started, and they announced their decision in May, so it never felt rushed or like everything was happening at once.”
She said staff communicated with LGBTQ members ahead of time, and while University Baptist Church is home to fair number of LGBTQ worshipers, the majority of people in support of the decision are straight allies.
“As far as keeping us in the loop, they did an amazing job making sure we felt safe and informed, trying to make sure if there was going to be an uncomfortable decision, we knew about it beforehand,” Kimminau said.
University Baptist, the second Waco church to split from the Baptist General Convention of Texas over the issue of same-sex marriage, was affiliated with the convention since 1995. Longtime congregant and former community pastor Craig Nash said while he supported the decision, it was destined to be a difficult one.
“It’s a big decision churches have to make,” Nash said. “In our setting, there’s going to be pain and grief one way or another.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Waco Tribune-Herald, Rhiannon Saegert