Saturday, February 10, 2018

FOLLOWING JESUS BY LOVING LGBTQ PEOPLE, NOT RELIGIOUS EMPIRE





FOLLOWING JESUS BY LOVING LGBTQ PEOPLE, NOT RELIGIOUS EMPIRE
A Pastoral Response to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Decision to Discriminate in Hiring Decisions Involving Married LGBTQ Followers of Jesus
Justice Is A Verb!
©Wendell Griffen, 2018

I sent the following email message on February 10, 2018 to more than seventy persons in response to a decision by the Governing Board of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to discriminate against married LGBTQ followers of Jesus in hiring persons for missions field personnel and supervisory positions.  Because I serve as pastor of New Millennium Church, a congregation affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) since it was organized in the spring of 2009, I am publishing the email message on my social media platforms.   

Colleagues,

After engaging in an almost two-year process, yesterday the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship adopted a policy that bans married persons who are LGBTQ from being employed as missions ‎field personnel or in supervisory positions. This policy is unjust. It reinforces bigotry towards LGBTQ people. It violates the Great Commandment of Jesus that we love our neighbors as ourselves. As pastor of New Millennium, I denounce the announced policy as unworthy of our support.

I will request that New Millennium meet to discuss the CBF decision. Pat Griffen and I were involved in the CBF co-sponsored Conference on Sexuality and Covenant in 2011 that convened in Decatur, Georgia. Our congregation co-sponsored and hosted a conference in April 2016 titled "Embracing Diversity and Inclusion of LGBTQ Persons in the Black Church." We are in active fellowship with the Church Within A Church Movement, a voluntary association of followers of Jesus committed to LGBTQ equality and inclusion, and Pat Griffen and I were presenters during the 2017 CWACM gathering in Washington, DC.  We are the only Arkansas church in the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB). Our Holy Saturday seder observances intentionally include and reference solidarity with persons who are LGBTQ.  

Plainly, CBF and New Millennium Church disagree about  LGBTQ equality and inclusion. The Illumination Project process and the CBF decision on yesterday proves that CBF does not choose to be, plan to be, or desire to walk with LGBTQ people and with us concerning this love and justice imperative‎. New Millennium Church now must decide whether to keep faith with our affirmation to welcome all persons in God's love, or walk away from our open and unapolgetic solidarity with Jesus and LGBTQ persons for equality and inclusion.

I will not support continued funding or involvement in CBF initiatives. CBF has chosen love of its purses above love of God's LGBTQ people. I am unwilling to follow that path as pastor of New Millennium Church. If our congregation is to keep faith with the love and justice imperatives in the gospel of Jesus, we should not be seduced by claims about following Jesus to carry out the Great Commandments and Great Commission by a body that consciously and proudly celebrates a decision to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.

I am sending this message to our congregation, to persons with whom we have fellowship relationships in CBF, to leaders in the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, to local and national leaders in the Church Within A Church Movement, AWAB, and other faith leaders with whom I have been in dialogue and fellowship about LGBTQ equality and inclusion. I do this to make my pastoral position clear. Some people will disagree with or disapprove of my position. No one should be unsure about it.

Please share this message with anyone in our sphere of ministry I may have omitted. I will reprint it on my personal blog and social media platforms, and ask that it be posted to the church website and social media platforms.

‎Sincerely,

Wendell Griffen
Author, The Fierce Urgency of Prophetic Hope
Pastor, New Millenium Church

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Pastor Griffen. I thought the CBF was better than this--a real disappointment to learn they are as intolerant as the SBC they broke off from.

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