A Baptist congregation in Kentucky has garnered national headlines for its intention to hold a gay wedding at its facility, despite most of their fellow Baptist churches' disapproval.
Highland Baptist Church of Louisville recently announced their intention to hold a same-sex wedding for David Bannister Jr., 29, and Steven Carr, 25. It is scheduled for next May.
Joseph Phelps, pastor at Highland Baptist, told The Christian Post that the gay couple "have been active and faithful members of the congregation for over five years."
"Our deacons concluded that conscience would not allow us to welcome gay and lesbian members as full members of our congregation … without also granting them both the responsibilities and rights of all our other members," said Phelps.
Highland Baptist is officially affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship.
The Rev. Laura Barclay, spokeswoman with the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, told CP that her organization does not have an official position on gay marriage.
"Because we represent autonomous congregations, we only take official positions on the matters in which we all agree," said Barclay.
"Therefore, KBF does not have an official position on marriage definition. Our organization promotes churches coming together for mission and ministry … We welcome any churches who want to partner to further the Kingdom of God."
Barclay added that "Highland Baptist Church is exercising their right as a free, autonomous church to act on their beliefs."
"They are expressing freedom of religion, a crucial tenet of the Baptist faith. We also know they have spent a great deal of time in prayer and reflection and have been very intentional about their process," said Barclay.
Likewise Jeff Huett, associate coordinator of Communications and Advancement for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, told CP that no official position either way existed.
"The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship does not issue official positions on homosexuality because it violates the Fellowship's mission as a network of individuals and churches," said Huett.
"CBF values and respects the autonomy of each individual and local church to evaluate and make their own decision regarding social issues like homosexuality."
News of the wedding at Highland Baptist came around the same time as a ruling by a U.S. District Court declaring Kentucky's state marriage amendment unconstitutional.
On Tuesday Judge John Heyburn in Louisville concluded that the ban violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The decision was the most recent of over 20 across the country declaring various state-level bans unconstitutional.