Choir “Uninvited” Over Church's Stance on Gays

A youth choir from a Fort Worth church the Southern Baptist Convention cut ties with because it didn't adhere to the denomination's stance on gays has been told it isn't welcome to participate in a Kentucky Baptist mission program.

The Broadway Baptist Church Chapel Choir, made up of high-schoolers, was informed Monday that it was "uninvited" to participate in the University of the Cumberlands' Mountain Outreach program, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

The Southern Baptist Convention voted during its national meeting in Louisville last week to sever ties with Broadway Baptist Church because it said the church did not adhere to the language in the denomination's constitution calling for churches not to "approve or endorse homosexual behavior."

The church drew criticism from some Southern Baptists after gay member couples asked that their portraits appear in a church directory. The church later published a directory without the family portraits.

University of the Cumberlands spokeswoman Daphne Baird said Thursday officials at the school in Williamsburg, Ky., declined to comment.

The youths "will be disappointed about this cancellation, but they will be glad to know we have come up with an alternative plan," said the Rev. Brent Beasley, Broadway's new pastor, who began work Wednesday and will preach his first sermon Sunday.

"All these kids want to do is praise God with their singing and serve God by helping those in poverty. We're not going to let denominational politics keep them from doing this good work."

Instead of going to Kentucky, the choir of 25 teenagers will leave Friday for First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tenn.

They will stay in the church's gymnasium and were scheduled to work with Habitat for Humanity, Mission Encounter and Helping Hands, leaders of the churches said.

Fran Patterson, the youth minister at Broadway, said students are disappointed but the group is looking forward to completing its weeklong mission work.

"I've hyped (the mission trip) up since February, but they'll be OK," Patterson said. "As long as they are helping someone and, as we say, being Jesus to people, they'll be OK."

First Baptist Church in Nashville is also affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. But First Baptist's senior pastor, the Rev. Frank R. Lewis, told the Star-Telegram he didn't hesitate when he heard that the choir needed a place to stay.

"One of the things that most Christian congregations believe is the opportunity to give hospitality to traveling Christian groups. This goes back to the days of the New Testament," Lewis said.

The University of the Cumberlands has been sued by a gay-rights group after the school expelled a gay student for posting comments about his sexual orientation and dating life on the Internet. The group argued that the school should not be eligible for $11 million set aside by the state legislature for a new pharmacy school at the university. The Kentucky Supreme Court announced this year it will hear the case, brought by the Kentucky Fairness Alliance.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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