Southern Baptists split from Baptist World Alliance - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Southern Baptists split from Baptist World Alliance

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June 15, 2004

Albany-- Southern Baptists complained that the Baptist World Alliance has become too theologically liberal and anti-American in tone.

The World Alliance says Southern Baptists pulled out because they don't like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. That's a group of moderates who broke away from the Southern Baptist Convention.

Several local church leaders say they didn't realize anything controversial was happening, but they trust their leadership.

Heavy clouds pass by Sunnyside Baptist Church, but the spirit inside is much lighter.

"We have got some great leaders, great spiritual leaders." Pastor John Townsend is one of those leaders, although this year he choose not to attend the annual Southern Baptist Convention.

"This is the second year I haven't been. Twenty years prior to this I went to everyone of them."

Delegates, known as messengers, from churches around the country voted to leave the 46-million member Baptist World Alliance, saying the global group has become too theologically liberal.

Pastor Townsend did not know the vote was coming up. "I had not heard about it, neither had I read about it in all the magazines and newspapers that come across my desk."

Just a few local churches, like Byne Baptist Church in Leesburg and First Baptist Church of Albany, sent representatives to the convention. "And I feel like if it were a controversy like other things at other conventions it would have been publicized, and I would have been notified and I would have been there."

Pastor Townsend says even though he didn't go, he knows the right decision will be made. "And I know these men are fundamentalists and grounded in the word and will make the right decision and I am going to follow them because my trust is in them."

His trust and the trust of 16.3 million members of the Southern Baptist denomination. With the SBC's departure, the world alliance loses its largest member and one-third of its income base.

posted at 5:10PM by dave.miller@walb.com