It’s pretty much common knowledge to those in the Baptist kingdom that Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX was removed from the Southern Baptist Convention by its messengers a few weeks ago. The historic 125 year affiliation was dissolved in about 30 seconds, an action that really started some time ago relating to how this church wanted to do its pictorial directory. 

Now the church youth group has been disinvited from staying at the University of the Cumberlands and participating in the school’s Mountain Outreach program. A church in the area has also cancelled a concert that would have been performed by their youth choir.

Brent Beasley will begin as Broadway’s new senior pastor on July 5, and already has made news on a number of fronts. He commented on this latest development: “All these kids want to do is praise God with their singing and serve God by helping those in poverty. We’re not going to let denominational politics keep them from doing this good work.”

It’s hard to imagine looking at these young people in the eyes and telling them they aren’t welcome to stay in dorms and work with poor people because of what happened in a Baptist meeting in Louisville. That city happens to be in Kentucky,which perhaps had a bearing on the actions of this university. The greater issue for me is the message this sends to a youth group who had planned this trip for months and now the youth minister has to scramble to find somewhere else to stay and something else to do. 

We’re living in a time when it’s increasingly difficult to give young adults a reason to stay in church, and these kinds of mission projects are the ways this can be done. I am not unaware of the larger issue related to homosexuality, but don’t think hosting this youth group and giving them materials to help poor people and hearing them sing a concert poses a serious spiritual health hazard to the larger body of Christ. And pulling the plug on them less than a week before the group’s trip to KY is really lame.

Surely the university knew who Broadway Baptist was and the issue related to their publicity. They knew about the concerns some in the SBC had about them and the perception which may or may not have been reality. It would been nice for someone to have contacted the youth minister prior to June 30 to say what might happen if her church was removed from the Convention. The youth trip starts July 3rd. So much for advance notice. A better way to have responded would have been to contact the church and say that the group would be allowed to stay this time but would not be welcomed for future trips. 

I can’t imagine non-Christians treating prospective guests in this fashion. I’m beginning to wonder whether some of us have lost our manners when it comes to denominational politics. There has to be a better way to prove a point than this.