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A church in West Virginia was voted out of a Baptist church association due to its acceptance of homosexuality.
First Baptist Church had its membership terminated on April 9th by the Fairmont Baptist Association for preaching tolerance of LGBTQ identities.
In an email sent to the Times West Virginian in February, the church’s pastor, Val Gittings, said that it was important to show that many Christians “reject outright the idea that homosexual behavior is a violation of God’s law.”
“We believe that the references to homosexuality in biblical passages are not toward committed, monogamous relationships,” Gittings said. “Rather, what is being condemned is inhospitality, heterosexual rape, pagan ritual sex and orgies, and pederasty.”
Gittings added: “We contend that gay orientation is not a choice; not only should gay behavior not be viewed as sinful, but gays are entitled to the same treatment as heterosexuals. We believe that gays should be welcome to participate fully in all areas of life, including the church.”
Gittings reaffirmed her stance to the board regarding homosexuality, which is what caused her church to receive a disfellowship recommendation.
After the final vote to cut ties with First Baptist Church, the church’s Board of Deacons and Gittings released a statement together, saying they were “saddened” by the Fairmont Baptist Associations decision.
“Our relationship has been long-standing and important to us. We remain hopeful, therefore, that at some point in the future the association will return to the Baptist fundamentals of soul liberty and local church autonomy, and we will be able to work together once again,” the statement read. “In the meantime, First Baptist Church reiterates that everyone is welcome to be fully included in our faith community, and we call on other churches to join us in extending that kind of invitation.”
Gittings is hoping to become a member of the Rochester Genesee Region of American Baptist Churches.
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