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Area ministers say 'amen' to Baptist message

June 11, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Tri-State area Southern Baptist ministers generally endorsed the view laid out at their national convention this week that marriage refers to a relationship between a man and a woman.

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"Amen. Definitely," said the Rev. Richard Gross, pastor of the Virginia Avenue Baptist Church in Halfway.

The 18th Article of The Baptist Faith and Message, which was approved on Tuesday at the national convention in Salt Lake City, defines marriage as "the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime."

Gross said the biblical concept of marriage has been lost in some segments of society, making the Baptists' statement necessary.

"Family, a marriage, is a man and a woman. That needed to be firmed up," he said.

Gay rights activists in the Tri-State area said such attitudes bar homosexuals from participating in religious institutions.

"We are, indeed, seeking many of the same things they are - stable and committed relationships," said David Koontz, chair of the Western Maryland Gay and Lesbian Justice Campaign.


Gross said the Southern Baptists are merely adhering to the truths laid out in the Bible.

"We're a people of the 'Book,'" he said. "If you have a beef with us, it should not be with the Southern Baptists. It's with the Bible and the Lord."

Baptists have misinterpreted the meaning of the Bible, Koontz said.

"It's not God saying gays should be excluded from the church. It's people who have chosen to speak on behalf of God," he said.

Other area Baptist ministers agreed with the position taken at the convention, however.

"I don't think God ever intended for two men to live together as man and wife," said the Rev. Jimmie Knox, pastor of the Chambersburg Baptist Church.

Said the Rev. Allen Youngbar, pastor of the Smithsburg Valley Baptist Church: "God loves everyone, but that is an abomination to God. We're anti-homosexuality. We're not anti-homosexual."

At the annual meeting on Tuesday, the Baptists also rejected an amendment that would have included widows, widowers and single people as expressions of "family."

Beverly Kipe, who recently finished her term as president of the Washington County chapter of the National Organization for Women, questioned that unyielding view of the ideal family.

"A single-parent family with one good parent is much better than a two-parent family with one dysfunctional parent," she said.

related story: Baptist ministers mull latest statement of faith

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