Baptist Church Embraces Lesbian Minister
By BRIAN LEWIS
PHOTO: Pastor April Baker greets churchgoers after service at Glendale Baptist Church.
When the Rev. April Baker became a Southern Baptist minister more than a decade ago, she knew she would have trouble in the job market.
She'd graduated from one of her denomination's top schools, Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. But she was a woman. About a year later, though, Baker confronted something about herself she'd largely ignored — her sexual orientation. That brought a crisis of faith.
''I grew up in a very conservative Christian environment,'' she said. ''Homosexuality wasn't even discussed, but you knew it was wrong.''
For years, she prayed to change, but that didn't happen. Gradually, she came to believe that God loved her just as she was. But that didn't make it any easier for Baker, 39, to find a job with a church.
Her search ended at Glendale Baptist Church, a congregation in Green Hills, where she started working in May as associate pastor. Glendale was founded as a Southern Baptist church in 1951 but has been viewed more recently as a renegade congregation of sorts for its ordinations of female pastors, its views on God and the Bible and its affirming attitude toward homosexuals. It stands at a crossroads now as its senior pastor prepares to retire in March.
Baker, who was hired specifically to minister to children and families at the 200-member congregation, won't replace Caldwell as senior pastor, but the church isn't completely sure what the future holds. It's in the midst of ''a visioning process,'' said Stewart Clifton, a member and a former Metro Council member. ''We have a lot to decide.''
Sometime soon, the church probably will be disfellowshipped from the Southern Baptist Convention, which has taken similar action against about a dozen other churches since 1988 that acted to ''approve, affirm or endorse'' homosexual behavior.
Generally, the churches either performed weddinglike services for gay people or hired gay clergy. Southern Baptist spokesman Bill Merrell said he was not aware of Glendale's action. When the convention meets in the summer, Glendale might be disfellowshipped, he said.
''If the convention knows that it does, in fact, affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior, then I would say the relationship is tenuous at best,'' Merrell said.
Glendale's drift from the Southern Baptist Convention can be traced to the conservative resurgence that started in 1979 and focused on biblical inerrancy. The church also is affiliated with the more moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Alliance of Baptists.
A few years back, the church considered dropping the word Baptist from its name because of the convention's conservative shift.
The congregation uses hymnals published by a different denomination, partly because they have more gender-neutral references to God than the Baptist songbooks.
So while the church sends a portion of its budget to the Southern Baptist Convention, Baker said, being sanctioned would not be a crushing blow to the congregation.
''It's not that we don't care,'' she said. ''It's just that we're facing reality.''
The congregation includes several former missionaries and seminary graduates, such as Vanderbilt Divinity School alumnus and Metro Councilman Chris Ferrell. He is one of the main sponsors of a bill that would prohibit discrimination against homosexuals in hiring or housing in Davidson County. The bill has received strong opposition from local religious groups who say it would infringe on their freedom of religion.
In American religious life, ordination of gays and lesbians is an extremely contentious issue and has been the cause of vigorous debates in denominations more liberal than the Southern Baptists, such as the United Methodists, Episcopalians and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Glendale wasn't trying to make a statement by hiring Baker but instead wanted to find the best person for its congregation, said Annette Sisson, who was on the church's search committee.
''It may say something about us as a church,'' she said. ''Some of the more traditional Baptist pastor candidates would not be a good fit.''
All of the finalists for the position were women and two told the church that they were lesbians. When the congregation learned that, about a dozen members left, said Sisson, an English professor at Belmont University.
Those who have stayed say they are happy with Baker's performance and think she'll be a stabilizing force as they prepare to replace the senior pastor.
''This church is extremely pleased that April is here,'' Clifton said. ''It makes it a more secure time for us.''
For Baker, she's happy that she finally has a chance to serve God in a church and insists that her sexual orientation is a small part of her identity.
''I am merely one of the ministers of the church,'' she said. ''Not the woman minister. Not the lesbian minister. Just one of the ministers who tries every day to follow as closely as I can to the teachings of Jesus.'' END
"I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah." —Jeremiah 23:14
Comment by webservant of Jesus-is-Savior.com...
It is a sad day in America when homosexuals are entering the ministry. I'm not surprised after discovering that witches are also being ordained into the ministry. When the Lord Jesus returns at the Rapture, very few people will be caught up into the air because there won't be much faith on the earth (Luke 18:8). The Rapture will be discredited by the news media because of all the religious people still remaining. The widespread disappearance of individual people will probably be blamed on the "terrorists" like everything else. Homosexuality is a sin! It is an abomination unto God, even more so when you repackage such wickedness in a religious wrapper.
Please understand that I don't condemn anyone, for the Bible condemns all of us as guilty, dirty, rotten, hell-deserving sinners. My salvation solely rests in Christ's righteousness, because of the precious blood that He gave for our sins. My intention is not to be unkind; but rather, to expose the sin of homosexuality. We ought not expose people; but rather, the sinful agendas they publicly promote and attempt to legitimatize. END
Why does the "mainstream press" condemn the Catholic Church for allowing predatory homosexuals to destroy the lives of boys, while simultaneously condemning the Boy Scouts of America for not allowing precisely the same thing in their organization? -SOURCE
Public Employees Teach Teens 'Gay' Sex Techniques (Including Fisting) at GLSEN Conference At Tufts University
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God Says Homosexuality is Morally Reprehensible!
Let the truth be known... homosexuality is a menace to society and undermines the moral integrity of a nation. God will not be mocked! Homosexual lust is not love. In Romans 1:26, God calls such lusts, "vile affections." "Vile" means "morally reprehensible." Homosexual affections are MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE! If Rosie O'Donnell wants to label Christians like me as "radical" because we believe the Word of God, then I'm proud to be radical for my Lord. O'Donnell wouldn't be calling Christ-honoring Christians "radical" if it weren't for the compromised, weak, cowardly, carnal, apostate, so-called "Christians" who have become homo-friendly.
Did you know that Christianity Today is homosexual-friendly? Christianity Today teaches teens that it's "normal" to be confused about sexual feelings, and that "Some same-sex activity or experimentation does not automatically mean that you are gay." Can you believe what you are reading... this is from Christianity Today!!! Why should God have mercy on this wicked nation? I believe God says to men of God today, the same Words He spoke to Jeremiah concerning Israel... "Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee" (Jeremiah 7:16).
Something About the Homosexual Movement and Pedophilia!
Do Something About the Homosexual Movement and Pedophilia!