Baptists at it Again!

November 19, 2006

N.C. Baptists vote to exclude pro-gluttony churches
Nov 15, 2006
By Horton H. Pharisee
Baptist News
“No one sin is worse than another. As believers, we have a responsibility to stand against an agenda which is contrary to Scripture. Nothing would please me more than if this discussion was unnecessary. However, this convention must stand with courage.”
–Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and head of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, in a righteous and upright attempt to treat all sins equally, strengthened its membership criteria Nov. 14 to specify churches that do not support gluttony and do not allow gluttons to be members until they repent.

Messengers voted by nearly a three-fourths majority to change the convention’s articles of incorporation, Article VI.A.3 concerning membership as proposed in the “Pillsbury Motion,” brought before the convention last year by Bill Pillsbury, pastor of Habbakuk Baptist Church in Wendell.

“This is my personal stand on the Word of God,” said Pillsbury, a vocal conservative, on why he sought to change the articles of incorporation. “We are people of the Book. We are not willing to compromise. We have to be willing to take a stand. Others are willing to compromise. I mean come on people. This is one of the seven deadly sins.”

Last year when Pillsbury first brought up the issue of gluttonous acceptance in Baptist churches, messengers directed the state convention’s board of directors to develop a policy defining “churches in friendly cooperation with this Convention.” Don Warren of Gastonia, president of the board of directors, appointed a special committee to study the issue.

Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and head of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees, chaired the committee, which also included Southeastern Seminary ethics professor Daniel Heimbach. They spoke with the Southern Baptist Convention lawyers, who referred them to the SBC constitution which was amended to include similar language in 1993. They worked with BSCNC staff and looked at whether various state conventions have provisions concerning gluttons as church members and churches that support gluttony being in good standing.

Harris said they found specific wording in the Georgia State Convention’s governing documents on membership addressing the issue of churches that affirm gluttonous behavior.

“Neither I nor the convention sought out this issue,” Harris said. “It is important to know that this reflects biblical standards we all can unite on. This in no way attacks a person caught in the grips of gluttonous behavior. This is the establishment of a standard for the North Carolina Baptist Convention.

“No one sin is worse than another. As believers, we have a responsibility to stand against an agenda which is contrary to Scripture. Nothing would please me more than if this discussion was unnecessary. However, this convention must stand with courage,” Harris said.

During the discussion, messengers who supported the Pillsbury Motion were united in saying the BSCNC needed to take a strong stand against gluttony.

Heimbach said no one on the committee wanted to be on the stage to make the motion. However, he said this is where the church is being challenged today.

“If this is not clear where the world and devil attack today, we are not being faithful to God and His Word,” Heimbach said. “We do not list all the sins in the Bible in our constitution…. [T]his is where we stand and what this means to us as a state convention.”
The vote comes in the wake of allegations of overeating by leading evangelists across the country. Ted Haggard, pastor of the New Life church in Colorado Springs and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, resigned recently after a Shoney’s waitress claimed to have served him at the notorious Breakfast Bar in Colorado Springs thrice weekly for the past ten years.
Haggard, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the glutton lifestyle, maintained that although he visited the buffet often, he ate only fruits, salads, and “the occasional french toast stick.” Pressure mounted on Haggard after charges on his church credit account were traced to a Dunkin Donuts in nearby Manitou Springs. Haggard resigned despite his insistence that although he had bought frosted donuts, custard- and creme-filled pastries, and bear claws on occasion, he always threw them out under the I-25 overpass to feed the homeless who sleep there.

Opponents of the revision did not see it as necessary. While they all agreed gluttony is a sin and sinners need to repent, they did not feel such a rigid stance is necessary when the mechanism for membership removal already is in place.

“This is unproductive,” said Nate Rotundus, pastor at Golden Corral Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and a member of the BSCNC board of directors. “We should have more conversations with each other rather than cast stones at each other. Having the right to exclude does not give us the right to exclude. This creates another layer of board-driven committee oversight and power.”

Under the new policy, which adds “teeth” to the existing policy according to convention President Stan Belch, the BSCNC will not act like a “church watchdog.” Instead, two people would have to make a complaint, using their own names, to the BSCNC against a church they are familiar with that ordains obese clergy, for example, or makes public statements supporting gluttony or accept overweight slobs as members, said Belch, pastor of Blackadder Baptist Church in Kannapolis.

Milton A. Grabass Jr., the BSCNC executive director/treasurer, said he does not feel there will be a mass exodus of churches from the state convention. However, about 20 BSCNC churches are members of the Alliance of Baptists, a Washington, D.C.-based group which does not exclude gluttons as church members.

“Churches are autonomous in nature,” Grabass noted. “The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina does not mandate what will happen in churches. Today, we are just relating to churches in our convention. We want to reach out in love and minister.

“Churches have particular standards. Most groups do. Gluttons are welcome in our churches. We will offer them ministry. We want people to come out of that lifestyle. The result today is that we want to help more churches realize they can reach out and minister. We hope this helps create new ministries.”

Leading evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson did not return calls on the subject, but televangelist Jack Van Impe released a videotaped statement yesterday in which he quoted the entire book of Deuteronomy without stopping to breathe, before lavishing praise on his “beautiful and smart” wife Rexella.

One comment

  1. LMAO. “Pillsbury” edict indeed. Well-played, sir.

    Funny thing is, the “theme” for this year’s convention was “Casting a Wider Net.” Apparently the BC’s notion of that is immediately excluding as many people as possible.

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