GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The Southern Baptist Convention’s top administrative body voted to sever ties with some churches Wednesday, including one in Greensboro.
One problem though: that church hadn’t claimed affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention in 23 years.
The church is College Park Baptist on Walker Avenue, just across the street from UNCG.
The Southern Baptist committee released a statement saying that “College Park Baptist Church of Greensboro, North Carolina, was not in “friendly cooperation” due to its “open affirmation, approval and endorsement of homosexual behavior.”
College Park Baptist’s website says that it is an “LGBTQIA affirming baptist church” and that it “fully welcomes and affirms all persons sexual orientation, gender identity or any other human category.”
This decision has caused some confusion, as College Park Baptist voted to voluntarily leave the Southern Baptist Convention in 1999. “They wanted us to respond to these allegations of who we were accepting as members and we weren’t going to respond. We had already left, so it seems pretty anticlimactic,” Michael Usey, the lead pastor, said.
A leader with the Southern Baptist Convention resigned in October of 2021 after internal division over how to handle scrutiny over the church’s response to sex abuse reports, saying “Due to my personal integrity and the leadership responsibility entrusted to me, I will not and cannot any longer fulfill the duties placed upon me as the leader of the executive, fiscal, and fiduciary entity of the SBC,” Floyd said.
A ‘secret’ list of abusers was released in May. Leaders were accused of attempting to portray victims as ‘mentally disturbed.’ The list of accused predators and abusers that was released featured multiple people from North Carolina.
The Southern Baptist Convention announced that it was under investigation by the DOJ in regard to multiple allegations of sex abuse in August.
Southern Baptist membership has been in decline since its peak in 2006 with roughly 16 million members, with membership going down an estimated 13.6% percent between 2006 and 2020. According to Christianity Today, they’ve lost over one million members over the course of three years, hitting their lowest numbers in 2021.
The move to publicly distance itself from a church that hasn’t affiliated itself with the convention in two decades might confound some, but the move comes as there has been increased pressure on the LGBTQ+ community from right-wing organizations, with conspiracies and legislation alike. Severing ties with churches that are in conflict with the denomination’s “theological conservative positions” is likely to appeal to its dwindling membership base, even if it’s merely a symbolic gesture with no real stakes for anyone involved.