Churches dually aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Kentucky Baptist Convention will be no more, if messengers to the KBC fall annual meeting agree with the convention’s credentials committee.
The KBC mission board endorsed a proposal May 5 that churches sending money to the Decatur, Ga., based Fellowship “no longer considered to be in cooperation” with the 2,400-church affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The decision, reported by the Baptist newspaper Western Recorder, is in response to a February vote by the CBF Governing Board to drop an outright ban on LGBTQ hiring but retain a practice of not hiring such individuals as missionaries or senior staff.
“Churches that contribute to a missions network that is approving of homosexual behavior give appearance of approving of such behavior,” said a fact sheet distributed prior to the vote.
KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood called it “not an issue of finances but an issue of biblical faithfulness.”
“On the issue of homosexuality, Scripture speaks with clarity and so have Kentucky Baptists,” Chitwood said earlier in the meeting. “That’s why, after turning a blind eye toward two decades of the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship siphoning off missions dollars from dually aligned churches, the messengers at the KBC annual meeting last November voted to task the Committee on Credentials with studying whether churches supporting the KBF should be considered KBC cooperating churches.”
About 25 CBF churches have contributed to the Kentucky Baptist Convention in the last two years, according to the Western Recorder. Another 13 churches listed as CBF partner congregations have not given anything to Kentucky Baptists in the last three years.
Convention leaders and staff reportedly reached out to every KBC church listed as members in the CBF prior to the vote.
“Several of the dually aligned churches have already broken ranks with the CBF, and I’m certain more will,” Chitwood said. “Kentucky Baptists are ‘a people of the Book’ and aren’t willing to rewrite their Bibles for anyone.”
Bob Fox, executive coordinator of CBF Kentucky, said the Kentucky Baptist Convention “is placing a false choice” for congregations.
“Baptists have always supported the right of local churches to choose their ministry partners, and in this case, churches are having that right of free association taken away,” said Fox, former pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Georgetown, Ky. “When a denominational entity meddles in the choices of congregations, we have forgotten the Baptist principle of church autonomy.”
Fox, who began his new position April 16, said the exclusion is one-sided, because CBF Kentucky “has never dictated to our participating churches with whom they may or may not partner.”
“We treasure the uniqueness and individual character of each of our congregations and believe our diversity is our strength,” he said. Whatever the outcome of this process, we will continue to follow Jesus together as individuals and churches seeking to spread the Good News of the Gospel.”