It was just last week I had posted about the rash of counties in Tennessee started passing resolutions to ban same-sex marriage — see post HERE — and now the historic First Baptist Church of Memphis has gone off the rails and done this ….
They have approved a resolution to not only allow same-sex marriage within their congregation, and celebrated at their church, they will now allow openly gay members of to be ordained as ministers.
Let the games begin, I say.
The vote, taken last week after the worship service, wasn't even that big a surprise. This is the same church, again, it’s in Tennessee remember, that baptized an openly gay man in 2001, and just two years ago, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to ordain its first gay deacons.
"This morning continues the tradition at FBC Memphis of applying our theology and faith to the issues and needs of our times as a church where all are welcome. Our church has a long history of being a progressive congregation where matters of social equality and justice are concerned." — The Reverend David Breckenridge
Of course, this is not a first for this First Baptist Church; the 175-year-old congregation was among the first Southern Baptist churches to welcome African-Americans in the 1970s, and the congregation began ordaining women as deacons and ministers in the late 1990s.
And First Baptist was one of the first, and largest, Baptist churches in the South to part ways with the Southern Baptist Convention [SBC] and affiliate with the more moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
The SBC excludes from its fellowship any and all churches that "act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior." The CBF hasn't taken an official position on same-sex marriage or ordination, but it bans the hiring of gay staff members and missionaries, though, according to Breckenridge, “the CBF has allowed individual congregations to make up their own minds about these matters, and I don't expect that to change."
So, again, this is a huge move for the First Baptist Church of Memphis, whose new motion, approved by 70% of the voters, reads:
"As Christ's church, First Baptist Memphis is called to minister equally to all persons, extending to them the privileges afforded to any follower of Christ, including, but not limited to, baptism, membership, leadership, ordination, and marriage and will not discriminate based on race, gender, age, marital status, or sexual orientation."
Now, isn’t that Christ-like … for a change?