Sunday, March 07, 2010


Dallas Morning News*:  North Dallas' Royal Lane Baptist Church ends
Posted by: "Eli"   glbt_denton
Sat Mar 6, 2010 2:31 pm (PST)


*Denotes that the Dallas Morning News, like the Denton Record-Chronicle, is a "corporate" newspaper and is owned by the Belo corporation with headquarters in Dallas. Recorded evidence gathered by freelance and independent investigative broadcast journalist,
Eli Gemini, will show beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Denton Record-Chronicle is covering up unlawful activity and crimes perpetrated for the City of Denton and the City of Denton Police Department.

North Dallas' Royal Lane Baptist Church ends silence on welcoming gays, lesbians with Web site change

North Dallas' Royal Lane Baptist Church ends silence on welcoming gays, lesbians with Web site change

11:39 PM CST on Friday, March 5, 2010
By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News
A church, like a person, can come out of the closet. And that's what Royal Lane Baptist did recently.

The 500-member church in North Dallas has for years quietly welcomed gays and lesbians, even ordaining some as deacons.

Last month, risking conflict with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, a majority of deacons voted to change Royal Lane's Web site to reflect the church's welcome to and affirmation of gays and lesbians.

"In effect, this is a collective coming out about who we are and have been for a long time," said Ruth May, vice chair of the deacons.

The Web site now includes the line: "We are a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds."

The Rev. David Matthews, the church's pastor, emphasized that members had not voted to change Royal Lane's mission statement or bylaws, which do not address homosexuality. But he agreed that the revised Web site is a public statement that the church welcomes gays and lesbians and does not think they need to remain celibate or try to change their sexual orientation.

"There were a handful [of deacons] who voted against it, indicating that they were not voting against gay members of the church, but just the advertising of it," Matthews said. "Other than that, it was approved. You never know what the long-term reaction is going to be, but so far I think everybody feels OK with it."

May, a lesbian, said that when she joined the church in 1994 it already had a reputation for welcoming gays and lesbians. Longtime members include Bruce Lowe, a 94-year-old retired Baptist pastor whose essay "A Letter to Louise: A Biblical Affirmation of Homosexuality" is widely circulated on the Internet and argues that the verses generally cited as condemning homosexuality have been misunderstood and taken out context.

Rare move

Matthews, who became Royal Lane's pastor last year, said the Bible "understood through the prism of Jesus" calls for full acceptance of gays and lesbians.

"The thought of Jesus being unaccepting of somebody because of their sexual orientation – not their choice, but their orientation – that's unthinkable to me," he said.

But Royal Lane's going public with its position is extremely rare for a Texas Baptist church and would seem to guarantee conflict with a group it has long been a part of – the Dallas-based Baptist General Convention of Texas.

"The convention has been clear in its belief that the Bible teaches homosexual behavior is sinful," said Randel Everett, the BGCT's executive director. "As to the specific situation at Royal Lane Baptist Church, it would be premature for me to comment until I have spoken with the congregation's leadership and gained all the facts."

Matthews said Royal Lane wants to remain in the BGCT, a vehicle by which Baptist churches support evangelism, Baptist colleges and universities, and emergency relief efforts.

He noted that Baptists traditionally have placed a high value on church autonomy, and he said he hopes the BGCT will not interfere in Royal Lane's case.

But while the BGCT is considered the more moderate of the two large state Baptist groups, it has many conservative pastors and a record of confronting churches on homosexuality.

Past battles

In 1998, after University Baptist Church of Austin ordained an openly gay man as deacon, the BGCT executive board recommended not accepting any more donations from the church and asking that the church remove the convention's name from its Web site and other materials. University took the hint.

"We didn't want to leave, but it was very clear that it was going to be a nasty fight and we weren't going to win," said Larry Bethune, the church's pastor.

Two years ago, Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth went through a wrenching internal fight over whether same-sex couples should be included in a church photo directory.

The controversy led the Southern Baptist Convention to cut ties with the church last summer, and Broadway avoided a widely expected showdown with the BGCT by not sending messengers to the BGCT's annual meeting last fall.

Brent Beasley, Broadway's pastor, said the church expects soon to reopen talks with the BGCT about the future of their relationship.

Royal Lane's situation could be more complicated than Broadway's, since Royal Lane's membership includes BGCT staff members.

May said she hopes Royal Lane can stay in the BGCT, but she doesn't see the church backing down.

"Our consensus was there's nothing more important than being truthful about who you are as a church and what you value," she said. "If any organization has a problem with that, that's their problem."

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nathan day

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