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Mission Board votes to distance KBC from CBF-supporting churches


LOUISVILLE—The Kentucky Baptist Convention Mission Board took another step May 8 to distance KBC churches from congregations that contribute to a missions network they say has given an appearance of approving of homosexual behavior.

Myriah Snyder

Dan Summerlin, chairman of the administrative committee, speaks on the motion brought forward.

Acting on a recommendation advanced by its Committee on Credentials, Mission Board members endorsed a motion that churches making financial contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are "no longer considered to be in cooperation" with the state convention.

Last year at the KBC annual meeting, a motion was made from the floor of the convention that was referred to the credentials committee, Dan Summerlin, chairman of the KBC Administrative Committee, recounted. The committee has worked on a motion that will be submitted to convention messengers in November, he said.

Although it was not required, the committee brought their recommendation to the Administrative Committee "out of respect" and wanting its feedback, explained Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah. "But they want us to be informed and make it stronger by saying 'yes' from the state board," he said.

On a FAQ sheet distributed to Mission Board members, the KBC Committee on Credentials cited an article in the KBC Constitution which indicates "churches which act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior" are to be deemed "not to be in cooperation with the Convention."

"Churches that contribute to a missions network that is approving of homosexual behavior give appearance of approving of such behavior," the committee asserted.

In February, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's governing board changed the organization's hiring policies to open employment for a host of CBF positions. Approximately 80 percent of CBF national office positions may now be open to LGBTQ applicants, including five of 11 positions on its national leadership team, the committee's FAQ sheet noted.

Churches that are dually aligned with KBC and CBF are "now supporting an LGBTQ affirming network and funding the employment of LGBTQ persons," the committee stated. Asserting that the CBF is "at odds with biblical teaching," the document cites Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:27, as well as The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 statement.

Committee members and KBC staff members have reached out to every church listed by the CBF as a partnering church to be sure they were aware of the CBF's new hiring policy and sought their input before endorsing the motion.

"The committee has been highly committed to communicating with these churches, to doing everything that we can to maintain relationship with these churches, have conversations with these churches, in the hopes that churches potentially impacted by this motion would remove themselves from cooperation with the CBF, given the CBF's action," KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood told Mission Board members. "We've already seen several of those churches do that, just because of the first contact," he added.

The move could affect approximately 25 KBC-affiliated churches that have given financial support to KBC in the past two years and are currently providing financial support to the CBF. An additional 13 churches that have not supported KBC in at least three years also are listed as CBF partnering churches.

If approved by messengers to the KBC Annual Meeting when they meet in Pikeville this November, the committee will again reach out to the churches to see if they plan to continue providing financial support to the CBF, Chitwood said. Individuals could choose to send donations directly to the CBF, instead of asking their churches to forward their gifts for them, the committee suggested.

In other action, the Mission Board approved a $21.5 million Cooperative Program budget for the next fiscal year, which runs from Sept. 1 through Aug. 30, 2019. Chitwood said the budget trims overall personnel costs primarily through retirements and the merger of the Business Services Team with the Executive Office Team.

Becky Harris, KBC accounting director, reported that total gifts through the Cooperative Program are on pace to surpass $22 million by the end of the summer. Kentucky Baptists have given nearly $15 million over the past eight months to support the work of missionaries and ministries within their state, across the nation and around the world, she said. (WR)

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