Fort Worth church that welcomes gays leaves BGCT

DALLAS (AP) — A Baptist congregation that welcomes gay parishioners severed ties with the state’s largest Baptist group, saying it would rather go its separate way than exclude people because of their sexual orientation.

In a letter sent earlier this week to the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth wrote that it was ending their relationship, which began in 1886.

“We’re committed to welcoming all people here, and we would not want to do anything that would be hurtful to anyone just to please the BGCT,” Pastor Brent Beasley said.

Broadway in 2008 drew attention with its internal dispute over whether same-sex couples should be included in the church’s photo directory. Leaders eventually decided to instead feature group pictures of all church members.

The Southern Baptist Convention, which along with BGCT believes homosexuality is a sin, cut ties with Broadway in 2009.

Beasley told The Dallas Morning News that the church voted “without dissent” last week to leave the Dallas-based BGCT. Beasley on Monday delivered the letter to Randel Everett, executive director of the BGCT.

“It is a sad day for us that we are unable to continue this relationship. I don’t know of any congregation that has been more of a strategic partner to Texas Baptists than Broadway,” said Everett.

The BGCT’s executive board in May voted to cut ties with Royal Lane Baptist Church of Dallas, another congregation that has been welcoming and affirming to gay people.

The group’s decision to cut ties with Royal Lane did not affect Broadway’s decision, Beasley said.

Broadway Baptist, which draws about 500 to Sunday services, will contribute directly to denomination colleges and charities that it previously helped fund through the BGCT. The church also will remain part of the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Broadway Baptist, on its website, describes itself as a “vital and diverse community of faith, coming from many different backgrounds, but unified in the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”