Gay-friendly pastor leaving Broadway Baptist

Posted on 24 Apr 2008 at 8:23pm
By John Wright

Younger leaving Fort Worth church to accept teaching position at Mercer after surviving vote last month trying to force him out

The Rev. Brett Younger

FORT WORTH — Following months of controversy involving the status of openly gay members, Broadway Baptist Church’s senior pastor is stepping down.

The Rev. Brett Younger, 47, announced last week that, after seven years as pastor, he’ll leave the church in June to accept a teaching position at Mercer University in Georgia.

In his Sunday sermon April 27, Younger said his departure isn’t a result of the infighting that began in October after gay couples asked to be pictured together in a directory commemorating the downtown church’s 125th anniversary.

Younger, who supported a compromise under which all family photos were eliminated from the directory, has been accused of leading the church in too liberal a direction.

"If this invitation had come a year ago, I would feel God leading me then as now," Younger told the congregation. "My desire to be part of Broadway has never been stronger, and yet my sense of the spirit inviting me a to a new ministry seems clear."

Contacted by Dallas Voice, Younger declined further comment.

Earlier this year, a group called Friends for the Future of Broadway collected enough signatures to force a vote on whether Younger should "vacate the pulpit" of the 1,500-member congregation. Younger also reportedly was offered $50,000 to take a leave of absence or step down.

On Feb. 24, the congregation voted 294-182 to approved the compromise on the directory issue, which had been recommended by Broadway’s deacon board. Two weeks later, the congregation voted 499-237 to keep Younger.

A spokesman for Friends for the Future of Broadway didn’t respond to a request for comment this week.

Scott Green, an openly gay member of Broadway Baptist, said he’ll be sad to see Younger go. Green also said he believes Younger’s departure is at least partly due to the events of the last few months.

"He enjoyed countless, relentless attacks on his ministry, and things went way beyond where they should have gone," Green said.

Broadway Baptist, a prominent congregation in moderate Baptist circles nationally, has long had openly gay members. But some argued that allowing same-sex couples to be pictured together in the directory would signal a shift from welcoming gays to affirming them.

Green said it will be interesting to see what happens now.

"Several of the discontented members have left," Green said. "Will some of them return? … The church’s next step is to secure an interim for the pending transition period. I feel Broadway would be wise in having an extended interim period. This would put some distance between us and what has happened in the past and help us to look more clearly into our future."

The deacon board reportedly met Monday, April 28 to begin discussing Younger’s replacement. Kathy Majeda, chairwoman of the board, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

Younger’s last day in the pulpit will be June 8.

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 25, 2008.

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