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story.lead_photo.caption “As a minister of the Gospel, I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies. I completely refuse,” the Rev. Ronnie Floyd of Springdale, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, declared Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. - Photo by AP/Columbus Dispatch / ERIC ALBRECHT

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Supreme Court's impending ruling on same-sex marriage is prominent on the radar at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, which concludes today at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Photo by ERIC ALBRECHT / AP/Columbus Dispatch
Retired Gen. Doug Carver, the Southern Baptist Convention’s chief of chaplains, leads a salute to veterans Tuesday at the group’s gathering in Columbus, Ohio.

The Rev. Ronnie Floyd of Springdale, pastor of the multicampus Cross Church, declared his stand during his president's message Tuesday morning. "As a minister of the Gospel, I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies. I completely refuse," he said.

"This is a Bonhoeffer moment for every pastor in the United States," Floyd said, referring to German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, author of The Cost of Discipleship and an outspoken critic of Nazism. "While some evangelicals may be bowing down" to cultural change, "we will not bow down, nor will we be silent.

"The Supreme Court of the United States is not the final authority, nor is the culture itself, but God's Bible is the ultimate truth, and on this truth we stand."

The subject is the focus of a presidential panel today, "The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage: Preparing Our Churches for the Future." Floyd's panelists include Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; Russell Moore, president of the denomination's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; former gay atheist Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith and the forthcoming Openness Unhindered; and Baptist pastors Ryan Blackwell of San Francisco and Matt Carter of Austin, Texas.

Floyd was elected as president of the 15.5 million member denomination last year. He was re-elected Tuesday to a second one-year term and was unopposed.

On Tuesday afternoon, the 5,300 registered attendees, or messengers, passed nine resolutions.

They called for racial reconciliation, through increasing racial and ethnic diversity in membership and staff and by becoming ambassadors in their local communities. They resolved to "prayerfully call on the Supreme Court" to uphold the right of citizens to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. They spoke up for "the sanctity of human life," with attention to abortion, the elderly and the terminally ill. They also spoke out against pornography.

The last two resolutions called for prayer and support for persecuted Christians worldwide, and for pressure on North Korea to cease persecution and human-rights violations of its citizens.

Resolutions are not binding on churches or individual Southern Baptists, since the denomination has no hierarchy and supports the autonomy of individual churches. But they express the mind of the denomination and stands on issues Baptists see as most pressing.

"They're important," said Steve Gaines, president of the resolutions committee, who is attending his 30th annual meeting. "These things go down in writing and Baptists will refer back to them in years to come. ... They give a general statement, and many times a specific statement, of where we are comprehensively as Baptists."

Resolutions can also show the denomination's progression of thought over time. Baptists of decades ago who advocated segregation probably could not have imagined one day voting for racial reconciliation.

David and Becky Ferron of Detroit left the morning session pushing a stroller with baby Emmalee, the youngest of their six children. The messengers from Merriam Baptist Church in Garden City, Mich., are attending their first annual meeting. David Ferron said he came primarily because Columbus was close. "I wanted to experience it."

Becky Ferron, a Baptist since age 8, appreciated Floyd's message. "He's standing firm," she said.

Attorney Taniya Jimenez was also attending her first annual meeting, along with husband Maxsy and others from First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., pastored by former Arkansan David Uth. Jimenez migrated to the Baptist church last November and is "digging right in" by attending the meeting. But the church is "one body regardless of denomination," she said, enthusiastically recalling a recent six-mile prayer walk attended by Christians from a variety of Orlando churches.

Jimenez and Bonnie Walton were among a group of women taking pictures of each other outside the "prayer room," a curtained-off area between the convention floor and the exhibit hall. Walton, a messenger from Pinecrest Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Va., prays with people she knows through peacewithgod.net, an online ministry staffed around the clock and sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Over lunch in the convention hall's food court, Memphis evangelist Phil Glisson chatted with the Rev. Matthew Gullion, a church planter in Fort Wayne, Ind., about ways to stop the church's declining membership and annual baptisms, which have dwindled to 1940s levels, a time when the U.S. population was much smaller.

Gullion, attending with his wife and two young daughters with identical French braids, works at recruiting young people into ministry and looking for evangelical methods to which the younger generation will respond. His congregation's worship band, Our Fragile Existence, has begun traveling a bit for youth events on Friday and Saturday nights, he said.

Glisson still believes in old-fashioned revivals, and makes a living speaking at them. But he advocates "trot-line ministry: many hooks in the water."

On Tuesday night, Floyd presided at an intense, emotional prayer meeting as part of his call for another "Great Awakening" in American Christianity, beginning with prayer.

Today, messengers will hear reports from many Southern Baptist entities, including mission boards. Last month, the International Mission Board made waves by dropping a ban on missionaries who have a "private prayer language."

The meeting is being live streamed at sbc.net.

A Section on 06/17/2015

Print Headline: Stand against gay marriage, Baptists urged

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Comments

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  • weona
    June 17, 2015 at 7:43 a.m.

    OK seriously, why is it ANYONE'S business who I or someone else marries or sleeps with. The fact is if you think it is an abomination or wrong DON'T DO IT. Just because that is the way you feel does not mean it is not right for someone else. UNLESS you are truly helping someone positively there is not reason for you to be in their business. Teach what you believe to those who come to you asking for help and love stop trying to force your belief and ideas on those of us who do not want your ideas.
    I am heterosexual so don't even think that is my issue, I just believe that if more people worried about cleaning up their own issues they would not have time to mess with anyone else.

  • HawgFan
    June 17, 2015 at 7:48 a.m.

    Does Ronnie Floyd honestly believe that a gay couple would come to his Baptist mega-church to get married?! Get real. Scripture also says women should cover their heads in church and not speak and if they have a question, they should ask their husbands. I wonder if I went to Floyd's church this Sunday if every woman would be silent and have a hat on??? Things to think about.

  • WGT
    June 17, 2015 at 7:55 a.m.

    Pathetic humans, the baptists. Mental illness. Sigh. Those of us who know must carry on, slogging our way through the garbage of humanity, cutting the path so others may follow to get out from under the abject slavery of religion.

  • ArkansasHawk
    June 17, 2015 at 8:10 a.m.

    There is a reason that the Southern Baptist membership has declined over the last 8 years and will continue to decline. They don't ever talk about the love of Christ. All they do is engage in cultural, social and political issues. They have become the Pharisees of our time.

  • Duhig
    June 17, 2015 at 8:33 a.m.

    RELIGION: Together, we can a cure

  • TomN
    June 17, 2015 at 8:53 a.m.

    Fundamentalism never has a future. Something Southern Baptists are learning the hard way, unfortunately. Growth and expansion cannot happen when the organization draws ever tighter circles of who is acceptable purportedly according to Biblical standards, and based upon only one hermeneutic or method of interpretation.

    Floyd props up a straw man and commences his attack. Why would any homosexual man or woman go to him and seek marriage? He has nothing to fear and merely engages in rhetoric, a rhetoric that actually destroys the Gospel he claims to defend.

    The truth of religion is always found beyond the quarrels of churches, beyond bigotry, beyond the tortures of "the rack and the stake," be it implemented by denomination or state. This lesson was learned in Europe centuries ago and something the Deists, Franklin and Jefferson, and those of Enlightenment philosophy insisted upon and built into this country's Constitution. Belief can never be coerced, manipulated, merely transferred, etc. We all come to our own belief system through personal experience. Dogma kills. Belief is more than simply accepting the organized thought of others, including denominations. True belief is always deeply personal and internal and rarely conforms to another's belief system derived from "their" personal experiences, etc.

  • ARMNAR
    June 17, 2015 at 9:42 a.m.

    Give it up, fundies. Your side lost. Liberty won. Put on your big girl panties and deal.

  • BEARTRAP919
    June 17, 2015 at 10:25 a.m.

    All of these Religions Practicing the Small Tent policies will always need Smaller and Smaller Tents. Start Preaching the Gospel and Preach about Jesus Loving Everyone and your Tent will need to be made Larger. This Stuff that Most Religious People seem to be concerned about so much is a very "SMALL" part of the Old Testament, and it needs to be Abolished like the Live Offerings,. If The Baptists and Others will stop meddling in Peoples Sexual Lives, Your Crops will grow and your Churches will expand. Most Preachers today are not Speaking for Jesus. Try Getting Real for a Change, It Works.

  • carpenterretired
    June 17, 2015 at 5:52 p.m.

    Around a hundred years ago the big moral issues were dancing ,playing cards , playing baseball on Sunday and divorce all of which have about disappeared, playing baseball on Sunday was even a criminal offense in Arkansas so even which evangelical morals there can be change over time. True it is still imposable to legally buy a beer in about half the counties in Arkansas.

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