This story hs been updated with a statement from New Heart Community Church.
By Bob Allen
A statewide affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention has booted a member church for advocating a “third way” of neither condemnation nor full embrace of same-sex relations.
According to Baptist Press, the executive board of the California Southern Baptist Convention voted Sept. 11 to withdraw fellowship from New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., for violating the convention’s articles of faith.
The church made headlines this summer when its pastor, Danny Cortez, reported in a blog that that he no longer believes all homosexual acts are sinful, and that after a period of discernment a majority of the congregation voted to keep him as pastor.
Cortez says his church believes it is possible for Christians to hold different positions on homosexuality in the same way they disagree about other issue like divorce and remarriage and yet remain in fellowship.
Acting on behalf of the state convention “ad interim,” however, the California Baptist executive board invoked an article from the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message saying that Christians should oppose “all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.”
According to Baptist Press, the SBC Executive Committee is likely to consider similar action when it meets next week in Nashville, Tenn.
Cortez provided the following statement on behalf of New Heart Community Church:
“We understand that some of our leaders’ actions have been perceived as moving away from the Baptist Faith and Message, and we affirm that the California Southern Baptist Convention leadership has had to make a difficult decision. At the foundation of our discernment has been to take seriously Jesus’ high priestly prayer regarding the unity of the church. Our congregation, then, desires to hold our disagreements in tension as we seek fellowship with one another, and as we have sought fellowship with our denomination. We want to make it clear that while our hope has been to stay within the SBC denomination, we nonetheless hold them dearly as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We ask that God bless them, and bless us, as we all attempt to navigate this very difficult period of church history. May God help us all.”