2 churches expelled from Texas Baptist convention for 'affirmation of same-sex sexuality'

A Holy Bible lays on rainbow flags.
A Holy Bible lays on rainbow flags. | Getty Images

Two churches were expelled from the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) last month for allegedly operating "outside of harmonious cooperation with the churches of the convention due to their public affirmation of same-sex sexuality." 

The BGCT Executive Board voted unanimously on May 23 to expel the two congregations deemed to be "outside of harmonious cooperation." The congregations were notified by letter of their expulsion. The congregations have until June 30 to respond to the allegations to be considered for reinstatement. 

"While we appreciate the long-standing relationship and previous collaborations with these two congregations, our heart at BGCT is to remain tethered to the grace and truth extended to us found only in God's Word and the Spirit of Christ," BGCT Executive Boarch Chair Bobby Contreras, the pastor of Alamo Heights Baptist Church in San Antonio, said in a statement. "This foundation has and will continue to be where BGCT stands united."

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While the BGCT announcement didn't identify the congregations in its public statement, Baptist News Global reports the congregations are Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio and Second Baptist Church in Lubbock. 

BGCT is an autonomous state convention that partners with the Southern Baptist Convention. 

"Concerns about the two congregations and their perceived public affirmation were brought to Convention leaders in the weeks leading up to the Board meeting," the announcement from the convention reads. "A member of the Convention staff contacted the congregations to determine whether their theological views on biblical sexuality had changed. In both instances, the congregations were found to hold views that were inconsistent with the Convention's long-held view on biblical sexuality."

After analyzing the information about the two churches, a discussion was held, and the board voted unanimously that the recommendation be passed. The decision satisfied the two-thirds majority set by messengers to the 2016 Texas Baptists annual meeting.

In 2016, messengers to that year's Texas Baptists Annual Meeting voted to approve a resolution stating that "any church which affirms any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a marriage between one man and one woman be considered out of harmonious cooperation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas."

A second motion was also enacted that allowed for the removal of any church as per an executive board vote if those churches fit the category of being "out of harmonious cooperation" with BGCT.

"The Board is committed to leading in sharing Christ and showing love in all we say and do," said Contreras.

Of the two churches expelled, Garrett Vickrey, the pastor of Woodland Baptist Church, told Baptist News Global that he had informed Bruce McCoy, the director of the Cooperative Program of the BGCT, that his church had not adopted any official policy on LGBT inclusion.

Vickery wrote an email to his congregation stating that "we have not put a barrier before membership" and that the church doesn't ask new members to "check a 'biblical sexuality box' on our membership cards," according to BNG.

"We do not question prospective members or candidates for ordination about relationship status or sexual practice," Vickery wrote. "We try to treat all people with dignity and respect. We look at the fruit of their lives." 

Pastor Jake Maxwell of Second Baptist Lubbock told BNG that his church had "little to do with the BGCT in several years" and that the removal notice surprised him. The church's website also lists the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance as "denominational partners." 

The two churches are not the first to have been expelled from BGCT over sexuality, as the convention had previously removed Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, First Baptist Church of Austin and Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco. In 1998, the BGCT Executive Board withdrew fellowship from University Baptist Church in Austin because the church ordained a gay deacon, BNG notes. 

In 2010, BGCT leaders removed Dallas' Royal Lane Baptist Church over its ordination of openly gay deacons.

More information about the two most recent expulsions will be further discussed at the BGCT's executive board's report to the convention during the 2023 Texas Baptists Family Gathering July 16 to July 18 in McAllen.

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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