Baptist Seminary Ousts Association for Tolerating Homosexuality

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has asked an association of churches to leave its Fort Worth, Texas, campus because the seminary says the group has a member church or churches that tolerate homosexuality.

A 1997 affiliation agreement between Tarrant Baptist Association and the seminary for use of an office building on the campus requires that the two organizations remain in "theological harmony."

The seminary, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, contends that the association has violated the agreement for retaining fellowship with a church or churches that don't adhere to the denomination's position that homosexuality is a sin.

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"The Baptist Faith and Message of 2000 has taken a clear stand against homosexual sin. They contend that Tarrant Baptist Association has member church(s) who don't stand in compliance with this statement," wrote the Rev. Al Meredith, moderator-elect of the association, in a Dec. 21 letter to the association's churches.

"They feel this places them in a contradictory situation," he added.

The Rev. Brent Beasley of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth told the Dallas Morning News that his church is the one "being referred to."

The SBC voted in 2009 to sever ties with Broadway Baptist over its policy to welcome LGBT members. Last fall, the local church ended 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's letter also laid out other grievances against the association.

The seminary also asserted that the association has not been helpful in job placements for professors and students in TBA member churches and stated that it needs more space for offices and a Welcome Center.

The association has 395 member churches, according to its website.

Meredith and two other associational representatives met with Seminary President Paige Patterson on Dec. 20 to discuss the situation, the Dallas Baptist Standard reported.

Patterson said he has learned of new information since the seminary asked the association to leave and agreed to discuss the matter further with the seminary's attorneys, Meredith told the paper.

The TBA moderator-elect has asked member churches to pray for Patterson and his team.

"Tarrant Baptist Association has had a long-standing fraternal relationship with Southwestern Seminary since their inception. We want to continue in this manner," stated Meredith's letter.

"They are not the Enemy," the letter continued. "The matters of the Kingdom are greater than those of either the Association or the Seminary."

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