Michigan Baptists Shun Gay-friendly Congregation

The oldest Baptist church in Flint MI is the first Baptist congregation in the state of Michigan to be disaffiliated from fellow Baptist congregations because of its policy regarding homosexuality. Churches in the 10 counties surrounding Flint voted 18-3 to sever its ties with the 275 member Woodside Church in the aging industrial city. According to reports, Rev. Ray A Strawser II of the North Area Executive Committee of Baptists said that churches of the American Baptist Churches USA voted to shun Woodside because Flint-area Baptist churches had objected to Woodside’s open stance with regard to homosexuality. Member congregations also objected to Woodside’s decision in May to join the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. The vote came after several meetings, including with Woodside Church.

Rev. Strawser affirmed that American Baptists believe that homosexuality is incompatible with Biblical principles. The action will be brought before the American Baptist USA churches in Michigan on September 9th.

Rev. Deborah Kohler, pastor of Woodside, declared that Woodside would continue its affiliation with fellow Baptist congregations, while it also maintains an affiliation with the United Church of Christ. Kohler told the Flint Journal “There is nothing they can do to keep us from being BaptistsâÂ?¦We can find other churches to connect with”. Woodside is known in Flint for its formal position with regard to homosexuality, and other sexual orientations. Rev. Kohler also said that the Gospels teach Christians to love “everyone just as they are without judgment”, according to the Flint Journal. She said that she will appeal the case. Woodside Churches is one of the most prominent Protestant congregations in Flint. It is found adjacent to the campus of Mott Community College and offers a day care center to children of students and faculty.

Headquartered in Valley Forge PA, the American Baptist Churches-USA has 1.5 million members in the United States and represents some 5,800 congregations. The best -known member of the ABC was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

For further information, see: www.abc-usa.org

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