A Southern Baptist church in Concord, N.C., has been expelled from a religious association after the pastor baptized two openly gay men and welcomed them into the congregation. Leaders of the Cabarrus Baptist Association--a regional group of 81 churches affiliated with the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention--agreed in a closed meeting Monday night to sever ties with McGill Baptist Church. Of 268 delegates at the meeting, 250 voted to withdraw McGill Baptist's membership. Eleven voted in favor of McGill. Seven abstained.
The Reverend Randy Wadford, the association's missions director, read a statement after the vote in which he said, "The homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God's will and plan for mankind.... To allow individuals into the membership of a local church without evidence or testimony of true repentance is to condone the old lifestyle."
The Reverend Steve Ayers, pastor at McGill, said being kicked out of the association doesn't have many practical implications. The 800-member church has contributed to the association's food and clothing projects but will find a new way to help the poor, he said. "The kingdom of Christ is about love, about God's grace and mercy," Ayers said. "When a church becomes so judgmental that it can't accept people into its fellowship, it is a sad, sad day."