The Southern Baptist Convention's top managerial body voted on Tuesday to cut ties with two congregations — an LGBTQ-friendly church in North Carolina, which left the denomination decades ago, and one in New Jersey cited for unspecified alleged discrimination.
The federal government is believed to have begun investigating the Southern Baptist Convention after a consultancy uncovered sexual abuse within the organization, followed by mistreatment of survivors by church officials. Though the DOJ didn't confirm reports about the subject of its investigation, the organization has suggested it was, according to the news wire.
Tuesday's voting committee proclaimed that the College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro failed to be in compliance because of its "open affirmation, approval and endorsement of homosexual behavior."
The College Park congregation had voted to leave the Southern Baptist Convention in 1999, the AP reports, and its website declares it's not a part of the organization but is a member of more progressive Baptist associations.
The church website reflects a mission of inclusivity and affirmation, stating, "Our church family in Greensboro welcomes and affirms all persons without distinction regarding race, ethnicity, national origin, class, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other category created by humans. We are an inclusive, fun faith community where persons from all walks of life feel comfortable worshiping and working together to bring Christ's love to the world – doing the best we can and trying not to embarrass Jesus too much."
College Park adds, "We are not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. We are affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA, Alliance of Baptists, and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship."
Baptist congregations aren't centralized, with each being self-governed. That means the Southern Baptist Convention can't force churches to submit to their policies. However, as the AP notes, they can classify them as not being in "friendly cooperation." This often happens if the church is pro-LGBTQ+ or other offenses such as accusations of racism or accusations that the church has failed to respond to sexual abuse.