Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Georgia is about to get tossed out of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and everyone knows it.
The congregation’s sin? They welcome a gay couple to services.
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While Jesus may have preached radical inclusivity and the Bible demands churches welcome all “sinners,” the SBC’s Executive Committee is more worried about what the neighbors would think.
“It’s about the bottom line, and that more churches than not in the Cobb County region would be against the acceptance of the LGBTQ community being members in their churches,” a staffer told Religion News Service.
A third of the church’s members have already left after the couple and their three adopted children began attending.
“We had been attending church of other more ‘liberal’ denominations prior to moving to Georgia,” John M. Reynolds said, “due to being a part of the LGBTQ community and being ineligible for membership, or in some cases even attendance” in Baptist churches.
While most others would likely decide against indoctrinating their children into believing their parents are wicked sinners who will burn in hell, the Reynolds decided to join. Knowing they would likely be unwelcome and treated badly, they emailed the church’s pastor to ask politely if they could join. They even offered to join separately “so as not to draw attention to themselves as a couple.”
Despite the couple’s offer to hide their relationship in front of their kids, the pastor showed more moral fortitude.
”I knew that we couldn’t put this decision off and that we were going to have to deal with this,” Rev. Jim Conrad said. The church’s assistant pastor agreed with the decision and the Reynolds report that “other couples our age” embraced them. But a large chunk did not.
“It was a painful season when 30% of your congregation leaves, (people) who you’ve done life with for the past 25 years,” said Conrad.
Conrad and the other members are fighting the decision to expel them instead of quietly leaving.
“We thought it would be best for the people that helped plant this church to tell us that they didn’t want us around anymore,” said Conrad.
For their part, the Reynolds have left the church after moving out of town.
“God is working in a very special way to open the door to the Baptist church community just a little wider,” Reynolds said.
The door, apparently, is the exit.