During the opening of the Southern Baptist Convention's Annual Meeting in Dallas Tuesday, some attendees expressed concerns with Vice President Mike Pence's planned appearance at the event.
Pence is scheduled to address the convention on Wednesday.
As a matter of routine procedure, church leaders asked attendees to approve the full schedule for the two-day event. That's when Garrett Kell, a pastor from Virginia, objected -- and asked that they replace Pence's speech with a time for prayer.
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"What binds this convention together is the gospel of Jesus Christ," said Kell. "Because of that, this convention ought to be marked by things that we share in common, not things that faithful Christians can disagree with. By associating publicly with any administration, we send a mixed message to our members, suggesting that to be faithful to the gospel, we ought to align with a particular administration. We must do all that we can to preserve the purity of the gospel -- and this invitation works against it."
Kell also suggested that minority members of the church may feel "hurt and bothered" by Pence's appearance.
His remarks were met by applause in the meeting hall.
Grant Ethridge, who chairs the SBC's Committee on Order and Business, responded by saying he heard Kell's words and was sensitive to the issues he raised.
He then asserted that the Vice President's appearance is not a political statement by the church and that the SBC "aligns itself with no political party".
"The White House reached out to us," said Ethridge. "In keeping with our SBC history, we've had many government officials address our convention. We have many other government officials who will be addressing the convention today and tomorrow... If President Obama's White House had contacted us and I was chairman of this committee, we would have exercised the same judgment and welcomed them to the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe we respect the position regardless of whether or not you supported or voted for the person. Therefore, we strongly urge the messengers to extend a biblical, Christ-like welcome to the Vice President of the United States."
Kell's motion was ultimately defeated.