By Associated Press

GREENSBORO, N.C. The more than 2,300 elegates to the North Caroline Baptist State Convention on Tuesday, Nov. 13, voted overwhelmingly to expel the Meyers Park Baptist Church of Charlotte because the church welcomes gays and lesbians.

Myers Park Baptist, a liberal church with about 1,970 members, was the first to be kicked out of the state convention under new rules passed at the 2006 meeting requirin any Baptist church that welcomed gays and lesbians without trying to change their orientation would be considered “not in friendly cooperation” with the state convention.

Six other churches out of more 4,000, including three in Charlotte, quit the Baptist State Convention in protest of the rules change, saying the new rule violated local autonomy.

Myers Park, however, had insisted on presenting its case to delegates at the annual meeting.

Delegates to the convention, which began on Monday, Nov. 12, were also expected to began phasing out monetary contributions to five historical colleges, in part because of the schools’ concerns over the convention’s increasingly conservative stance on issues such as gay rights.

Funds to retirement homes and a women’s missions organization were also expected to be cut off.

The process has been under way for years, since the convention’s leadership became increasingly dominated by biblical literalists. Under increasingly tighter rules, some schools feared a limit to their academic freedom.

The schools Campbell University in Buies Creek, Chowan University in Murfreesboro, Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, and Wingate University in Wingate will also gain freedom to pick trustees from other denominations and other states.

The schools are increasingly attracting students without a background in the Baptist church, say supporters of the separation.

Delegates were also expected to vote to cut financial ties with the Women’s Missionary Union and Baptist Retirement Homes, both of which have made moves to operate independently.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 16, 2007mobi onlineпоисковый оптимизатор