How a Georgia pastor practiced what he preached by accepting LGBTQ members into his Southern Baptist church


Over the previous a number of months, the pastor’s stance on love and acceptance has drawn nationwide consideration to Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Specifically, over the query of who’s allowed to change into a member of it.

Earlier this 12 months, Towne View misplaced its relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and virtually half its membership, together with their dues, as a results of Conrad’s choice in 2019 to simply accept a homosexual couple and their three youngsters as members of Towne View.

But Conrad is not attempting to appease anybody. He’s simply attempting to do enterprise as typical on the church, the place he’s been a pastor for 27 years.

Expecting to be turned away

Back in 2019, a query from John Reynolds prompted Conrad to have tough conversations relating to the church’s membership coverage.

Would Reynolds, as an overtly homosexual man, be welcomed to Towne View with his accomplice, John McClanah, and their three youngsters?

Reynolds stated he had emailed practically a dozen church buildings asking pastors the identical query. He and McClanah have been keen to boost their sons, then ages 7, 9 and 11, within the Southern Baptist custom that meant a lot to them, however understood the issue their household would face discovering a congregation given the SBC’s staunch place towards homosexuality.

Reynolds stated he went into the dialog with Conrad totally anticipating to be turned away, as a number of pastors had already completed.

Conrad — or Pastor Jim as he’s identified to his congregants — described the dialog as a kind of moments the place he needed to course of 5 – 6 choices in a split-second.

Any choice that turned Reynolds and his household away from Towne View was not one he may make and sleep at evening, Conrad stated.

“I knew that there would be folks who wouldn’t be happy, there would be consequences. I could’ve conceivably lost my job,” Conrad stated. “But it was right thing to do, it was the right conversation to have.”

After a number of months of attending worship companies, Bible research and Bible faculty, Conrad advisable Reynolds and his household to be formally permitted as members of the church by way of a vote in late 2019. A vote is a part of the Southern Baptist church’s course of for approving new members.

Conrad stated he knew approving Reynolds and his household can be out-of-bounds with the ideas of the SBC.

So he was not stunned when in February, the SBC Executive Committee voted to disfellowship Towne View after the group’s credential committee advisable the SBC not take into account Towne View in “friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention.”

“When one of our churches chooses to affirm or endorse homosexual behavior through their definition of regenerate church membership, we have clearly come to a different understanding on what we believe is an essential doctrine,” JD Greear, SBC president and pastor of The Summit Church, stated in an e mail assertion to CNN. “However, while it is vital to be clear about our statement of faith and our standards of cooperation, we certainly desire to handle the issue with care.”

Greear stated that SBC believes “the Bible is clear about sin and repentance, but that doesn’t mean that our churches are not welcoming everyone in our communities with the message of the gospel.”

“Every weekend we gather as a group of broken, forgiven and redeemed people — and any member of the LGBTQ community is welcome to attend,” Greear stated.

A need to affix a church

Reynolds stated he was saddened to listen to that a massive group just like the SBC would nonetheless come down in mild of exclusion, as a result of he stated shutting off so many individuals to what religion brings to so many individuals has dangerous implications, particularly on individuals rising up within the church.

Brockton Bates and his partner on Easter Sunday.

Brockton Bates, a 24-year-old from Dallas, Georgia, stated he and his accomplice have additionally discovered sanctuary inside Towne View, after years of struggling to seek out his place within the church as an overtly homosexual man.

Bates stated he started to essentially perceive the church’s messaging on homosexuality after popping out in center faculty to his dad and mom, who took him to a counselor to “pray the gay away.”

“It was painfully clear the community I was involved in would not love me the same if I were to emphatically say, ‘hey, I’m gay,’ and this is how it is,” Bates stated. “I was ostracized from the church and just in my family, they still don’t have much to do with me.”

Despite being ostracized, Bates stated he by no means doubted wanting to affix a church as an grownup.

“I just have always believed that if God is good and faithful, then surely there are other people out there who are part of this community who love god and want to be about the literal teachings of Christ,” Bates stated. “And sure enough, I found and visited for the first time an affirming and welcoming Baptist church, the most loving and transparent people in the church word.”

Celebrating acceptance

Conrad’s beliefs of acceptance have been on the forefront of Easter companies this previous weekend the place he stated the importance of getting overtly homosexual parishioners reminiscent of Bates lead worship lower than two months after being disfellowshipped was not misplaced on him.

Towne View Baptist Church

“I tried to address it to some degree. Not directly, but we did a Stations of the Cross service for Good Friday, and in it offered confession for our sin, for standing quietly by while others suffer — sins of omission for the things we don’t do,” Conrad stated. “One of those ways was when the church stood silently while members of the LGBTQ community has suffered.”

Themes of welcoming and acceptance carried all through companies over the holy weekend — an necessary transfer, Bates stated, as a result of so the vacation attracts so many individuals who do not usually attend worship.

Bates described Conrad’s sermon as an invite for all individuals to come back and see Jesus. If that was an SBC pastor, he stated, that may’ve been conditional. Conrad’s provide was for everybody to come back no matter who they’re and what they’re doing, Bates stated.

“To be openly gay with my partner, to take part in holy communion is a blessing,” Bates stated. “It was the first communion I took fully being who God created me to be.”



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