Baptist Convention ejects church with lesbian pastor

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 06 2003 11:00 PM ET

A Baptist church with a lesbian pastor was voted out of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Laurann Whetham, president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, said Glendale Baptist Church went too far by placing a lesbian in a leadership position. Associate pastor April Baker is the only full-time ministerial staffer at Glendale, which has about 200 members. "We're not elevating homosexuality above other sins by this action," Whetham said.

The vote was held May 30. It's likely that Glendale's relationship with the national Southern Baptist Convention will be addressed next week at national meetings in Phoenix. Glendale officials said in a statement that they accepted the decision. "We...appreciate the prayer and dialogue with representatives of the executive board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and accept the decision of the executive board to dissolve our relationship," the statement read. The Southern Baptist Convention has severed ties with more than 10 other congregations since 1988 over the issue of homosexuality.

Glendale spokesman Stewart Clifton said the church will still consider itself Baptist and continue to support Baker. "She's doing a great job," he said. "She has total confidence in the church."