Southern Baptists vote to leave World Alliance

By June 17, 2004

International (MNN)–The head of the Baptist World Alliance says he regrets the withdrawal of the Southern Baptist Convention, but questions the stated reasons.

Southern Baptist Convention messengers voted overwhelmingly June 15 to end the denomination’s 99-year relationship with the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).

SBC leaders repeatedly have accused BWA of affiliating with Baptist groups that espouse “aberrant theological views,” a charge denied by BWA officials.

Citing the example of BWA’s affiliation with American Baptist Churches, Paige Patterson, speaking on behalf of the SBC’s BWA committee, said a group in that denomination is “committed to being a gay-friendly place for churches and people of that disposition.”

BWA’s General Secretary Denton Lotz says the situation is a bad model for the international church. “We believe the monogamous relationship between man and woman is the basis of marriage. So, to suddenly bring this up as an issue is going to shock the Baptists of the world. That’s not even on the agenda of most Baptists of the world because it’s a Western agenda.”

Lotz says the infighting is part of a spiritual battle aimed at distracting mission vision. “I think we need to pray for unity. This is what’s happening across the denominations. Many evangelical groups are experiencing division. It’s like in a family when a husband and wife divorce–the children will suffer. We don’t want missions to suffer overseas from this tragic split.”

The withdrawal means the alliance will lose the Southern Baptists’ annual contribution of $300,000. The Southern Baptists plan to increase their own evangelical efforts and missionary work around the world.

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