What’s Brewing: Tom Leppert, Broadway Baptist Church, Chris Colfer at the Golden Globes

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert officially won’t seek re-election this year, and instead likely will run for Senate in 2012. No surprise there, but our biggest question remains unanswered: What does this mean for Leppert’s openly gay chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh? Will he go to work on Leppert’s Senate campaign? Will he find another job at City Hall? Will he go back into broadcast journalism? As of last week, Heinbaugh officially wasn’t saying.

2. Southern Baptists simply can’t seem to get over the fact that Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth treats gay members like human beings. Broadway Baptist has already been kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention and left the Baptist General Convention of Texas over the issue. Now, the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is going after the church, albeit indirectly. The seminary wants the Tarrant Baptist Association to vacate an office building it has long occupied on the seminary’s campus, in part because Broadway Baptist is one of the TBA’s members. The seminary also wants the building for a welcome center, but apparently believes the anti-gay excuse sounds more Christ-like.

3. As Arnold Wayne Jones pointed out below, the Golden Globes were about as gay as could be last night. Above is video of Chris Colfer’s acceptance speech.

—  John Wright

Goofy-looking bigot Randel Everett steps down from Baptist General Convention of Texas

Randel Everett

Randel Everett, who oversaw the Baptist General Convention of Texas during a period when two churches were forced to leave because of their acceptance of gays, is stepping down as executive director. The Dallas Morning News reports that Everett will become pastor at First Baptist Church in Midland, which frankly sounds like a better fit for him than Dallas. The story talks about how Everett had to “grapple with the recession and with the general decline of denominations. Under him, the BGCT continued to trim staff and cut its budget due to decline in giving from affiliate churches.”

Well, it seems kinda hard to complain about this stuff when you’re actively driving churches out of the convention because of your homophobia. Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth left the convention voluntarily in September, and Royal Lane Baptist Church was kicked out in May.

When Royal Lane was kicked out, Everett called the decision “painful.” Everett said BGCT churches should “welcome homosexuals,” but Royal Lane’s decision to allow “practicing homosexuals” as deacons meant that it was going against the group’s view that homosexuality is sinful.

If the convention were smart and wanted to stop the bleeding, they’d find someone to replace Everett who’s a little more open-minded. Trouble is, these folks don’t appear to be very smart.

—  John Wright

FW church leaves BGCT

Broadway Baptist wants to move beyond ‘distractions’ caused by denomination’s response to congregation’s welcome of gays

Tammye Nash and John Wright  |  Dallas Voice editor@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Saying that the church doesn’t want any further “distractions” over its position on homosexuality, Fort Worth’s Broadway Baptist has officially ended its 125-year affiliation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Broadway Baptist officials on Monday, Sept. 13, hand-delivered a letter — written by Pastor Brent Beasley and approved by the congregation on Wednesday, Sept. 8 — to BGCT offices in Dallas, informing BGCT Executive Director Randel Everett that the congregation will no longer contribute or send messengers to the convention’s annual meeting or publicly claim affiliation with the state convention, according to a report published online by The Baptist Standard.

The move was the latest development in an ongoing battle between Broadway and the Southern Baptist denomination that began in 2008 when the Fort Worth congregation voted to include photos of its openly LGBT members in the directory commemorating the church’s 125th anniversary.

Scott Green, an openly gay member of Broadway Baptist, responded to the decision Tuesday evening, Sept. 14, in an e-mail sent exclusively to Dallas Voice.

“It is indeed unfortunate that Broadway has once again been put into the situation of having to make choices that, in the end, benefit no one,” Green said.

Green added that Broadway Baptist “has always stood as a beacon of hope for the entire community. We also stand firm in the knowledge that God is gracious and loving, welcoming all of us.

“Each and every week, I am surrounded by this marvelous community of believers,” he continued. “They seek God’s guidance for their individual lives, and corporately live out their faith. They wrap their arms around those who are in need. I challenge anyone to stand and say that Broadway Baptist should not be a vital part of Christ’s mission.”

Green also had praise for Broadway’s pastor, Brent Beasley, saying the minister has “led us mightily” since becoming pastor in July 2009.

“We have rebounded in every way imaginable. Whether or not we are part of the SBC [Southern Baptist Convention], the BGCT, or any other denominational entity, I am both humbled and honored to be a member of this fine church,” Green said.

According to the letter from Broadway Baptist to BGCT, the Fort Worth church is leaving because of “distracting complications we encountered in our attempt to participate in last year’s annual meeting and the prospect of future unwanted and unneeded discord.”

Those “complications” were threats by some representatives to the state convention in the fall of 2009 that they would challenge the seating of messengers from Broadway Baptist over the church’s policy of welcoming openly gay and lesbian members.

According to the Baptist Standard, the letter also said one of Broadway’s commitments is “welcoming all persons into our church, including the outcast, those on the margins of society, and those who have not found that welcome in many other places, including, unfortunately, many churches,” and that thanks to that policy, Broadway Baptist has “become a vital and diverse community of faith, coming from many different backgrounds and representing many different perspectives, but united in the love and grace of Jesus Christ.”

In 2008, an internal dispute broke out at Broadway Baptist over plans to include same-sex couples in the photo directory. That led to an effort by some of the congregation’s more conservative members to oust then-Pastor Brett Younger.

That effort eventually failed when the congregation voted to keep him on. But a month later, Younger announced he was leaving to take a teaching position at Mercer University in Georgia.

In June of 2009, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to sever its ties with Broadway Baptist because of the congregation’s policy of welcoming LGBT members.

Earlier this year, the Baptist General Convention of Texas voted to expel Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas over the congregation’s acceptance of gays.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Royal Lane Baptist Church stops giving money to anti-gay bigots

It’s pretty rare that we praise Baptists on this blog, but you gotta absolutely love the gay-affirming folks over at Royal Lane Baptist Church.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas yesterday voted 63-4 to break ties with the 500-member church, according to The Dallas Morning News, after the church refused to waver from its acceptance of gays and lesbians, including as deacons. The vote by Texas’ largest Baptist group means it will no longer accept funds from the gay-affirming church. Big deal, right?

Well, it turns out there are also some more serious consequences for the church’s decision to stand up to the bigots at BGCT. One Royal Lane member will have to leave the BGCT board, and two other members who are BGCT employees will either have to give up their jobs or switch churches. One has apparently decided to tell BGCT to take the job and shove it.

Randel Everett, chief homophobe at BGCT, called the decision “painful.” Everett said BGCT churches should “welcome homosexuals,” but Royal Lane’s decision to allow “practicing homosexuals” as deacons meant that it was going against the group’s view that homosexuality is sinful. (The church apparently opted not to use the defense that the deacons are no longer practicing, but have perfected their homosexuality).

Anyhow, during yesterday’s meeting, the Royal Lane member who is a BGCT board member, Doug Washington, spoke up in defense of the church and its “practicing homosexuals.”

“To say something is wrong with them is to say God made a mistake,” Washington said.

Washington added that the church won’t be bullied by the BGCT.

“I think we’re stronger than ever,” he said.

Hallelujah!

—  John Wright