Greenville First Baptist Church has withdrawn from the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
In May, the church adopted a nondiscriminatory policy that would allow gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered people not only to be members of the church, but to be married and to be ordained.
“We cannot accept, approve or condone those kind of beliefs,” SCBC interim executive director-treasurer Richard Harris said in response to the church’s decision. “Our stance is clearly stated in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. We cannot walk in agreement with a church that accepts those beliefs.”
SCBC Executive Board chairman Dwight Easler sent the church a letter asking members to recant, to agree to the definition of marriage according the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, or withdraw from the state convention.
The church’s senior pastor, Jim Dant, replied in a brief letter dated Sept. 9 that the church’s diaconate had voted Sept. 8 to “to withdraw from the South Carolina Baptist Convention.”
Easler said the Executive Board “respectfully and peacefully accepts the withdrawal of First Baptist Greenville” from the state convention.
“We will continue as a convention to uphold the biblical definition of marriage and the biblical definitions of sin,” said Easler. “We pray for First Baptist Church of Greenville. We also pray for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to prevail and hearts to be turned toward the truth of God’s Word.”
Greenville First Baptist Church voted to end its affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention in 1999.