A new hiring policy adopted by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) has led two state conventions to change the way they channel funds to the organization.
Changes adopted by the CBF Governing Board on Feb. 9 will open some positions within the organization to gay employees. The new policy states that all employees should “have the highest moral character” and display “professionalism and a commitment to the highest ethical standards,” but dropped a two-decade-old wording forbidding the employment of “a practicing homosexual.”
The change came after a two-year review of a CBF policy adopted in 2000 that banned the hiring of staff or field personnel who are gay. The new policy stipulates that CBF will employ persons for leadership positions “who practice a traditional Christian sexual ethic of celibacy in singleness or faithfulness in marriage between a woman and a man.”
The “celibacy in singleness or faithfulness in marriage” criteria will apply to CBF Global Missions field personnel and their supervisors.
“Our global partners (within and beyond Baptist life) have decisively rejected movement toward hiring or supporting LGBT field personnel or the inclusion of LGBT persons in ordained leadership,” the report says.
However, other positions on the Decatur staff will be open to “Christians who identify as LGBT.”
The ramifications of the decision may be costly for CBF.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) Executive Board voted Feb. 20 to end pass-through funding for CBF as a result of the decision. The BGCT will revise contribution forms used by 5,600 Texas churches by removing the 1,800-church Fellowship as an option for giving through its Cooperative Program unified budget.
The Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) also decided it will no longer forward contributions from its affiliated congregations to CBF on Feb. 25. Both organizations opted to have member churches send their contributions directly to CBF.
CBF executive coordinator Suzii Paynter called the actions disappointing but said many churches have already begun giving directly to CBF rather than going through a state convention.
BGCT President Danny Reeves, pastor of First Baptist Church, Corsicana, Texas, said in a news release about the decision, “I am very grateful for the consistent, steady way in which the BGCT has held to God’s Word.”
“We lovingly say to all people the truth that marriage is to be between one man and one woman,” said Reeves, a two-time graduate of CBF partner George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas.
A statement released by the BGAV Executive Board similarly noted, “The BGAV remains committed to respecting, welcoming and loving all persons in the name of Christ while affirming an orthodox view of marriage between a man and a woman.”