Kentucky Baptists sever ties with LGBT-friendly Louisville church

Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.

Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky Baptists on Tuesday chose to sever ties with a Louisville church that is open to performing same-sex marriages.

Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.

Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.

Baptist leaders from around the state gathering in Bowling Green for the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s annual meeting voted overwhelmingly to end their longstanding relationship with Crescent Hill Baptist Church. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Jason Crosby, has said the church is open to performing same-sex marriages and ordaining gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual members.

Greg Faulls, vice chairman of the convention’s Committee on Credentials, said Kentucky Baptist churches consider same-sex relationships a sin. The committee voted last month to recommend the action against Crescent Hill.

“To give approval to what the Bible clearly states is sin is not only an offense to the scripture, it is an unloving act toward sinners, an act that leaves them in danger of God’s judgment,” Faulls said.

Crosby spoke out against the motion to sever ties with his church.

“We are Bible-led, Kentucky Baptists to whom God has revealed a different perspective on (gay and lesbian) individuals to us, rather than to you I suspect, yet we still want to be with you,” he told the gathering of church leaders.

The 106-year-old Louisville church’s 800-member congregation voted in 2013 to open its hiring, ordination and wedding services to LGBT people.

Only a few hands went up in support of Crescent Hill during the vote.

The move came a year after convention members issued a no confidence vote in the leadership of the president of Sunrise Children’s Services, who had asked to open the center’s hiring to gays. Bill Smithwick later resigned after 16 years at the helm of Sunrise, which is the state’s largest privately-owned child care provider.

Church leaders also approved a resolution Tuesday that welcomes people who identify as transgender, but opposes their “efforts to refashion the body to conform with a person’s perceived gender identity.”

Also Tuesday, Baptist Convention President Chip Hutcheson gave an update on Campbellsville University, which has moved to end its covenant agreement with Kentucky Baptists. He said the school is no longer affiliated with the Baptist Convention.

Last month, the central Kentucky university appointed a board of trustees without the Baptist Convention’s approval, which is against the covenant agreement.

Hutcheson said university President Michael Carter had planned to attend the annual meeting but was not there on Tuesday.

The university’s board of trustees earlier this year voted to phase out the $977,000 it receives annually from Baptist churches, and it has adopted a revised set of bylaws that would allow it to select its own trustees and maintain academic freedom.

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