Debate continues over SBC vote - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Debate continues over SBC vote

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June 23, 2004

Albany-- While some Baptist ministers support the Southern Baptist Convention's withdrawal from the Baptist World Alliance, other religious leaders say it is a mistake.

The associate pastor of Albany's oldest Baptist Church is critical of the motives behind the vote, saying a fundamentalist movement within the Baptist Convention is taking away the autonomy of churches.

Members of First Baptist Albany make a joyful noise at Sunday service, "Sundays are exciting, invigorating," says Associate Pastor Keith Gaines.

Weekday mornings at the church may be quiet, but discussion over last week's vote is not silenced.

"Well, the withdrawal of the Southern Baptist Convention from the Baptist World Alliance for me marks a sad day, another sad day in our history."

Associate Pastor Keith Gaines says the Southern Baptist Convention of his youth is much different than the modern version, "Over the past 25 years our SBC has been literally under a takeover and has been taken over by folks who acknowledge that was their purpose starting out in 1979."

Described as an ultra-conservative fundamentalist takeover, the leadership of the SBC, according to critics, has changed the original purpose of the organization, evident by its withdrawal from the Baptist World Alliance.

Gaines says the Baptist World Alliance, "Was a fantastic way of joining together with other Baptist bodies to do missions--which is really the purpose of our gathering together as churches."

Gaines says that purpose is being overshadowed by politics, "The focus has gone to narrowing our theological definition of what a Baptist is and that really goes against the grain of the basic theological definitions of a Baptist."

That's one reason some Baptist churches have chosen to leave the Southern Baptist Convention. For now, First Baptist Albany will keep its affiliation.

The Baptist World Alliance was formed ninety years as a way to join missionary efforts of the individual Baptist Churches--the Southern Baptists were founding members.

Posted at 4:06 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com