Leaders in the Kentucky Baptist Convention have endorsed a recommendation to end the convention's cooperation with dually aligned churches that continue providing support to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in the wake of CBF's new policy ending a ban on LGBT employees.
Last Saturday, The KBC Mission Board and Administrative Committee endorsed a recommendation offered by the KBC Credentials Committee that would make it so KBC congregations that give to CBF will no longer be considered in cooperation with the state affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Committee on Credentials was directed following reports of CBF's new hiring policy allowing for LGBT individuals to apply for non-leadership positions to review the situation involving CBF (that has 1,800 member churches) and KBC (which has 2,400 member churches), and make a formal policy recommendation at KBC's annual meeting in November.
According to a fact sheet justifying the committee's recommendation, there are about 25 churches that have given financial support to the KBC in the last two years that currently give to CBF. Meanwhile, there are 13 KBC-affiliated churches that have not supported KBC in the last three years but are listed as partner churches with CBF.
"The committee plans to reach out to the churches before the KBC annual meeting to let them know about the motion they are presenting," the fact sheet states. "If approved by convention messengers, the committee will again reach out to the churches to give them an update and see if they still plan to provide financial support to the CBF and be sure they know that individuals can send donations directly to the CBF instead of asking their church to send them."
KBC leaders told Kentucky Today that the hope is that churches will decide that they want to remain in cooperation with the KBC.
"This isn't an effort to force these congregations out of the Kentucky Baptist Convention," KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood told the online newspaper. "It is a call to those congregations to safeguard biblical teaching and maintain their historic relationships, understanding that the Bible speaks clearly on the issue of homosexuality and that they would not want to support groups that embrace unscriptural lifestyles."
Kentucky Today quoted Chitwood as saying that "several of the dually aligned churches have already broken ranks with the CBF." He added that he is "certain more will" do the same.
"Kentucky Baptists are 'a people of the Book' and aren't willing to rewrite their Bibles for anyone," Chitwood said.
The Western Recorder, a Kentucky-based Southern Baptist news outlet, notes that the Credentials Committee released a FAQ page to Mission Board members. The FAQ page was quoted as stating: "Churches that contribute to a missions network that is approving of homosexual behavior give appearance of approving of such behavior."
CBF Kentucky Executive Coordinator Bob Fox told Baptist News Global that the KBC is creating a "false choice" for churches and accused the body of meddling into the autonomy of congregations.
"Baptists have always supported the right of local churches to choose their ministry partners, and in this case, churches are having that right of free association taken away," Fox argued. "When a denominational entity meddles in the choices of congregations, we have forgotten the Baptist principle of church autonomy."
The committee's fact sheet asserts that the endorsed recommendation is not an attempt to "interject [the KBC] into the affairs of local churches."
"Just as local churches are autonomous, the Convention of churches is autonomous and those churches can determine their basis of partnership as a convention and with what churches the convention will partner," the fact sheet contends.