So it was front-page news in the Telegraph, Macon’s daily newspaper, when First Baptist called an Aug. 27 meeting of its membership to decide whether its stated policy of welcome and inclusion should extend to the celebration of same-sex marriages.
Two thousand out of 49,000 is a start. Respect and civility are nice, too.
After paying a visit, I think there’s something more to learn from this story: how to foster respect and civility even amid disagreement.
The news that hit driveways in Macon that Sunday morning had, in fact, been brewing a long time inside the church. First Baptist is one of about 2,000 congregations that have chosen to leave the conservative Southern Baptist Convention over the past 25 years. For the roughly 47,000 churches that remain in the SBC, same-sex marriage is a nonstarter; no church that condones such unions can participate.
Can you find a better use for the scriptures than supporting bigotry? Or who would Jesus shun?
And a discussion of Scripture focused on the Bible passages most cherished by church members. The same verses came up again and again, and none dealt with sexuality. “We reminded ourselves why we listen to Scripture in the first place: not to be a battleground, but to bring us together,” Dickison recalled.
Baby steps or giant leaps? Depends on how you want to look at it.