The nearly 3,000 delegates that make up the North Carolina Baptist Convention voted this week to expel the Myers Park Baptist Church for welcoming and affirming lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Baptists in their congregation.

Last year, the North Carolina Baptists decided to expel any member church that openly accepts and affirms LGBT people and same-sex relations from the Baptist community.

The vote came after two of the church’s leaders called on the delegates to open their hearts to LGBT people who want to worship with them and to respect local autonomy in interpreting the Bible.

According to AP, North Carolina Baptist Convention President Allan Blume responded that the Bible calls on believers to turn away from sin.

He also suggested Myers Park Baptist was seeking publicity for its views.

The convention’s decision did not sit well with the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox, who made the following statement:

“Today the North Carolina Baptist Convention has sought to marginalise Myers Park Baptist Church and their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members.

“We stand with the principles taught by Jesus by defending those the church and society seeks to marginalise.

We thank Rev. Stephen Shoemaker and Nancy Walker, who spoke today, for their prophetic witness in the face of the denomination’s miscarriage of God’s call to justice.

“They have called the convention to live up to Jesus’ standard and not down to the level of their basest fears.”

The exclusion of the 1,970 Myers Park congregants and their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members is the first of several partings between the North Carolina State Baptist Convention and members of their community.

The Baptist State Convention also is expected to disengage from their cherished institutions and ministries of Baptist colleges and universities, a hospital, five retirement homes and a dozen children’s homes.

Byran Ochalla © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.