Kentucky Baptists yesterday voted to expel a Louisville church which is open to performing and holding same-sex marriage ceremonies.
During the Kentucky Baptist Convention's annual meeting on Tuesday, church leaders from around the state decided to sever ties with Crescent Hill Baptist Church. Executive director of the convention Paul Chitwood said: "We're all sinners and we recognize that, but for a church to say 'we're going to endorse the sin, we're going to call what the Bible calls wrong, [and] call it right', that becomes the issue."
Crescent Hill's website states that the church believes "God loves all people without condition" and says it is "a diverse community of faith including people of various races, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation, and world-views."
"In 2013 the church clarified its relationship with LGBTQ individuals. The congregation overwhelmingly voted to be open to grant ordination, hire, or perform wedding ceremonies for LGBTQ individuals," the site explains.
"In other words, sexual identity or orientation will not be a factor in determining whether the church will ordain, hire or perform a wedding ceremony...No matter who you are, where you are from, or where you have been, you will be welcomed at Crescent Hill."
Last year, the church also joined the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB), which aims to help LGBTQ individuals find "inclusive congregations".
Speaking at the convention yesterday, Crescent Hill pastor Rev Jason Crosby urged those present not to expel his church.
"We are Bible-led, Kentucky Baptists to whom God has revealed a different perspective on (gay and lesbian) individuals to us, rather than to you I suspect, yet we still want to be with you," he said.
"This is another barrier that I think God has revealed to us that it's time to bring down."
Despite his plea, however, AP reports that "only a few hands went up" in support of Crescent Hill, and the church will no longer be affiliated with the Convention.
A vote was also held to approve a resolution that welcomes transgendered people. However, the legislation remains opposed to "efforts to refashion the body to conform with a person's perceived gender identity."