“This church’s journey is just like a lot of churches’ journeys,” Dant asserted. “You think you are about to make a decision about homosexuality or how the church is going to deal with the LGBT community to be able to live with the LGBT community. It really ended up not being a decision about homosexuality, but being a larger decision about what it means to be a church.”
“We are a diverse people,” Dant continued. “We sit on pews Sunday morning with people that have diverse opinions, and we are not united by our agreement on any one issue, we are united in our desires to be followers of Christ in a particular community.”
The South Carolina church that was founded by the Southern Baptist Convention’s first president has adopted a new non-discrimination policy that will allow for the congregation to not only marry same-sex couples but also ordain openly gay, lesbian and transgender ministers.
Dr. Jim Dant, senior minister of the 184-year-old First Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, explained in a recent interview with Greenville Online that his church, which is no longer Southern Baptist, voted earlier this year to take up a new policy that does not allow the church to discriminate in any facet of its ministry on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The vote came after members of First Baptist went through a six-month discernment process on how the church should handle the LGBT community.
“The decision we made was completely non-discriminatory. We do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Dant said. “If the person comes into the church as a follower of Christ on their journey, they are welcome to experience and express that journey in any way that any other person is able to express and live out the rituals of their faith.”
Dant said that members of the church, which was founded in 1831 by SBC’s first president William Bullein Johnson and broke apart from SBC in 1999, have had informal discussions “for years” on what the church’s policy should be when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity. It wasn’t until last November that the congregation began having formal talks about the issue.
Over the course of four Sundays last November, a group of 200 First Baptist members gathered in groups of eight to discuss their views on the issue. Dant stated that although not all members could agree on the affirmation of homosexuality or gender identity, a general consensus was reached that even though the congregants might have “diverse opinions,” the one thing they had in common was that they were there to worship Christ.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/baptist-church-founded-by-first-sbc-president-allows-ordination-of-gay-and-transgender-ministers-142997/#h52PLJpvHetkA6es.99