Baptist Group Votes to Sell Building over Gay Church Controversy

Leaders of a Baptist association, which was asked by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary last month to leave the campus, voted Monday to offer to sell the building at the center of the controversy.

The Tarrant Baptist Association's executive board voted unanimously to sell the building, for fair market value, to the Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, reported the Baptist Press.

If the seminary turns down the offer, the board asked that the matter be deferred to a three-member arbitration panel as stipulated in the affiliation agreement between the seminary and the association.

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The seminary had sent a letter dated Dec . 10 contending that the association violated the terms of the affiliation agreement to the property by having member churches that don't adhere to the denomination's position that homosexuality is a sin. The association was given six months to vacate the property.

The Rev. Al Meredith, moderator of the association, met with seminary president Paige Patterson in late December hoping to resolve the matter. Patterson agreed to consult the eviction of TBA with the seminary's attorney and reconsider the issue, according to Meredith.

At issue is whether TBA or the seminary rightfully holds the deed to the office building in question.

Last week, the seminary sent a letter to the association indicating its intention to move forward with its claims on the property.

Speaking to The Christian Post last week, Meredith said that the association currently holds the deed to the property.

When asked if litigation would be a course of action if arbitration fails, Meredith said it was "a possibility," but said he wouldn't get personally involved if that would be the case.

He also said the association is praying that the dispute will not disrupt the long-standing fraternal relationship between the two parties and bring dishonor to Christianity.

"My only concern is that this will become another public fight and people will think this is what Christianity is about," he commented.

It is believed that Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth is the TBA member church that the seminary referred to in its letter.

The SBC voted in 2009 to sever ties with Broadway Baptist over its policy to welcome LGBT members. Last fall, the church withdrew from its 125-year-old affiliation with the General Baptist Convention of Texas rather than face a challenge over its policy at the annual convention.

Meredith defended Broadway Baptist Church, saying it has never espoused a gay agenda.

"They don't have any gays that are leaders , deacons or staff members," he said. "It is a church in good standing with Tarrant Baptist Association and they are one of the 12 founding members of the association."

A representative of Southwestern Seminary did not return a request for comment.

According to its website, the Tarrant Baptist Association is comprised of 400 Southern Baptist churches in the Tarrant County area. The association's office building is located on 4520 James Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas, at the edge of the Southwestern Seminary.

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