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Gay issue leads
to split between Baptist convention and Mercer University

Gay issue leads
to split between Baptist convention and Mercer University

After a 172-year relationship, Mercer University in Macon, Ga., and the Georgia Baptist Convention are going their separate ways. The convention voted November 15 to sever ties with Mercer over differences on doctrinal and social issues. Trustee Griffin Bell said committee members possibly were upset over an October event at the university that included National Coming Out Day. The two groups agreed to the terms of the breakup on Friday, according to a statement issued by school president R. Kirby Godsey. Mercer will get $3.5 million that the convention had already designated for Baptist student scholarships through 2007. Convention spokeswoman Diane Reasoner said the $19.5 million endowment to the school will be turned over to Mercer. After 2007, Mercer must seek Baptist funds from individual churches. The school will gain its autonomy in choosing its board of trustees, creating a self-perpetuating board with exclusive control of Mercer's property and assets. Before, nominees were approved by the Baptist convention. Godsey said in Friday's statement that this week's agreement "effectively ends" the relationship between the two institutions. "It does not, of course, alter the heritage or the history of the institution, nor does it diminish the high Baptist traditions on which it was founded," Godsey said. Mercer's board of trustees must approve the agreement at its April meeting. (AP)

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