For the most part, the Pikeville convention seemed quiet and unsurprising. Key items on the agenda were known in advance, and no new business was introduced from the floor. Save for the motion regarding churches that also support the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, messengers discussed little, and even in that debate, they conducted themselves in a cordial and orderly spirit.
Still, it might prove informative and instructive to those who were not in Pikeville to recap the discussion concerning the Committee on Credentials motion. which states that churches making financial contributions to the CBF would no longer be considered cooperating affiliated churches. The committee’s motion arose in response to the CBF Governing Board’s removal of its policy prohibiting employment of LGBTQ persons. This change, committee chair Jeff Carlisle explained, runs counter to an article in the KBC’s Constitution calling for churches which act to approve, affirm or endorse homosexual behavior be deemed not to be in cooperation.
Judge Eugene Siler quickly moved that the motion regarding CBF churches be postponed indefinitely. In his view. too much rancor and ill will would result, and his own church, Williamsburg First, would be “tossed out.” All subsequent discussion centered on whether to postpone action, rather than the actual motion.
Favoring postponement, Jim Holladay, messenger from Lyndon Baptist Church in Louisville, noted his congregation maintains affiliation with a variety of missions partners. “Without a doubt we can find points of major disagreement with nearly all of those groups, but our decision to enter into and maintain relationships with such a diverse group of partners rose out of our concern to bear witness to the reconciling love of God through Jesus Christ.” he said.
Russell Bennet, messenger from Beechwood Baptist Church in Louisville, reminded messengers that the Lord forgave a harlot, ate with tax collectors. cleansed lepers. and healed those possessed with demons. “Surely we should follow His example, even though the Pharisees condemned Him,” he reasoned. “It ill behooves the convention, which exists to convey money to missionary endeavors, to instruct participating churches about their generosity and compassion.” he added.
James Carroll, messenger from Parkway Baptist Church in Bardstown, and member of the credentials committee, urged messengers to clearly state their convictions to biblical fidelity. “Our motion does not draw new boundaries,” he said. “We are simply identifying the boundaries that were drawn in the New Testament and have been operating for our churches throughout church history. These boundaries state. namely, that sexual immorality is out of step with biblical Christianity.”
Also opposing postponing was Matt Shamblin, messenger from Rose Hill Baptist Church in Ashland. “(I)f we are to postpone this indefinitely then we are lying to our community, and we’re lying to the broader community of the SBC, in saying where we stand,” he said. “I have members of my own family who have same-sex attraction, and I believe what Jesus says, that in loving those members of my family, to tell them anything other than that the truth and hope of Jesus Christ would set them free would be an absolute rejection of the Gospel.”
Steve Weaver, messenger from Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort and the KBC’s Capitol chaplain, while affirming scriptures others shared, countered, “However, there are other texts of scripture which call for us to earnestly contend for the faith, that call for us to stand against the unfruitful works of darkness. We’re called as believers to be in partnership together, united for the sake of the gospel, united around the centrality of word of God and the truthfulness of scripture, and to say what God says about sin.”
Time was called with messengers still standing at mics. Some may have wished that those whose churches would be affected would have more opportunity to speak. But, messengers voted to move forward, and it’s unlikely the outcome would have differed, and these churches now will be graciously allowed a year to comply, we’re told.