The Kentucky Equality Federation is applauding the Feb. 15 decision of the Central Baptist Church of Lexington to end its affiliation with the Elkhorn Baptist Association, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), due to the Convention’s position on gay and lesbian people.
Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer spoke to Trisha Huffman, Office Administrator, and Rev. Dr. Mark Johnson, Senior Minister with the Central Baptist Church of Lexington to thank them for the position of the Church and welcoming gay and lesbian people.
“We need more Churches like this across the Commonwealth,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. “We are all created in the image of God, and we are all children of God. Everyone’s relationship with God is personal and not for any one person or any association of Churches to condemn or frown on.”
After nearly 60-year membership in the Elkhorn Baptist Association, the Central Baptist Church of Lexington voted unanimously to terminate its association per their recent press release. The vote reportedly stemmed from a letter from a sister-church pastor to the association’s membership committee questioning a blog post by Central Pastor Mark Johnson.
The blog featured an Indianapolis church’s marketing campaign that asked “Who Stole Jesus?” which included the sentence: “The real Jesus celebrated diversity in God’s creation, including gay and transgender people.”
The complaining pastor affirmed Central Baptist’s right to follow its conscience but questioned “whether or not they should do so as a cooperating member of the Elkhorn Baptist Association.”
“Just as all politics are local, so are true Baptist relationships,” Johnson said. “We had cooperated with the Elkhorn Baptist Association on common projects of mission involvement in the Lexington community even if we disagreed with them on other matters. But 30 years ago, Southern Baptists started emphasizing doctrinal uniformity more than cooperative mission projects as a point of belonging and working together.”
Johnson said Central Baptist Church wants to identify itself as “an open and inviting fellowship for God’s people.” A motto on the church website says, “At our best, we welcome all in order to love them and not judge them. We respect the rights of each other. Freedom is not an excuse for anarchy. But our welcome is without limits to each person. To behave legally and lovingly is our only standard. All are welcomed here. No exceptions.”