NASHVILLE — The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee has voted to remove a South Carolina congregation from fellowship due to its affirmation of homosexual behavior.
The Committee’s decision on Tuesday to remove Augusta Heights Baptist Church in Greenville was based on “public information provided by the church, which amounts to clear evidence of the church’s affirmation and approval of homosexual behavior.”
It was also considered that Greg Dover, who leads the congregation, “sought and acquired approval” from deacons to officiate a same-sex “wedding” in October. Leaders of Augusta Heights Baptist said that because the ceremony was not going to be held at the church, they would not stop Dover from officiating if he believed God wanted him to participate.
According to reports, Dover told the Committee in correspondence that Augusta Heights Baptist “does not have a marriage policy, or any official position or doctrinal statement on issues of homosexuality or same-sex marriage.” He also stated that the congregation “does not wish to end our relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention.”
However, Dover’s actions were found to be contrary to the Southern Baptist Constitution, which states that “churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior would be deemed not to be in cooperation with the Convention.”
The congregation was therefore removed from fellowship “until such time as the convention determines that the church has unambiguously demonstrated its friendly cooperation with the convention as defined in the convention constitution.”
Augusta Heights Baptist had already been removed from fellowship with the Greenville Baptist Association and South Carolina Baptist Convention over the matter.
“It is with great sorrow that The Church Relations Committee moves, as instructed by the Constitution and By-laws of the Greenville Baptist Association, that Augusta Heights Church be dismissed as a member of the Greenville Baptist Association unless the church repents and returns to the biblical position on marriage as being between a man and a woman,” the Greenville resolution read, which was agreed upon by 119 representatives of 45 churches in November.
Al Phillips, the director of missions for the Association, told the Baptist Courier that he would like to see the congregation restored to fellowship—but it must be willing to repent.
“Our goal is not to punish Augusta Heights but to hold her accountable,” he said. “Our deepest desire is to see the church repent and return to the biblical position of marriage as being between a man and a woman. But we must speak the truth in love.
“Our attitude is that of Christ. Jesus offered grace, but He required repentance. He confronted sin unflinchingly,” Phillips continued. “He knew we don’t really love sinners if we allow them to continue in harmful, self-destructive behavior without confronting them with the truth. We have tried to follow His example.”