HOUSTON — A wise man named Ice Cube once said, “If ya scared, go to church!" But just pray they’ll let you in the door.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas have put two churches, The First Baptist in Austin and the Wilshire Baptist in Dallas on the chopping block. The reason: the congregations gave an open invitation to the LGBTQ community.
If the two welcoming worship centers are expelled, a big chunk of their funds would stop rolling in.
“The churches that are being involved in this are some of the churches that are on the leading edge," Rev. Ernest Turney of the Bering Memorial United Methodist Church said. “Where you’re out in front, people don’t always understand where we are going or what we are doing.”
Bering is noted as a highly progressive Methodist church which has accepted people from all walks of life for years.
However, the BGCT doesn’t agree with this reformist movement in religious institutions.
BGCT officials released the following statement:
“This is a painful time for Texas Baptists. We have deep respect and appreciation for the churches involved. While Texas Baptists are loving, respectful and welcoming to all people, we have a longstanding and often reaffirmed biblical position on human sexuality...As in the past, when a church chooses a position outside of the BGCT position, that church effectively withdraws from harmonious cooperation. The BGCT values the autonomy of the local church and the harmony which is vital to the Convention’s purpose of fostering cooperative missions and ministries.”
In 2010, the organization cut off Dallas’ Royal Lane Baptist Church for having openly gay deacons, so things don’t look too good for these more progressive Baptist ministries. But in our current political climate where bigotry and hate are daily events, Turney feels the sanctuary of worship is more crucial now than ever.
“People that are feeling disenfranchised, people that are feeling like they don’t have a place. There needs to be a safe place," Turney said. "The definition of a Church is that we welcome everyone. That’s the bottom line, that’s the starting place, not the ending place. You take in and take on and open your arms to everyone who comes.”