After a request to change the “ministerial recognition rules”, the denomination opens a hearing process on all levels. “Feelings run deep, and each of us is seeking to be faithful to Christ”.
Baptists Together (the largest Baptist Union in the United Kingdom) has made public its internal process to listen to diverse perspectives on marriage inside the denomination after receiving a request to change its “ministerial recognition rules”.
A group of 70 members, most of them pastors, wrote to the national council, asking to change a clause that says that “sexual intercourse and other genital sexual activity outside of marriage (as defined exclusively as between a man and a woman)” is “gross misconduct”. The letter asked the council to remove the section in brackets, to not limit marriage to heterosexual unions.
“Creating a process that considers and responds to this question in a way that reflects the whole of our Baptist movement” has been the priority since the request was made in 2020, said the denomination’s General Secretary, Lynn Green. Much effort, she added, has been invested in listening to all the theological positions, as well as testimonies from churches across the country.
The position of the leadership of Baptists Together is that “we must not rush ahead as we seek a way forward”. A decision is not expected this year.
[photo_footer] The Baptist Union of Great Britain is formed by around 2,000 churches and other organisations.
In a context of the “heated debate” happening among UK Baptists, Lynn Green said she realised that “this will be very difficult for those who have raised the question and also for those for whom the answer is clear cut”. The issue at stake should be considered “prayerfully” by all the churches since everyone is “very aware of the significance of any possible change”.
A Baptist Union Council gathering in March included time to listen and discuss about the positions of ministers and churches regarding marriage and ministry. It stated that “feelings run deep, and each of us is seeking to be faithful to Christ”.
In recent years, some local Baptist churches in the UK with a liberal approach to marriage have registered to be able to marry same-sex couples.
Others hold to the traditional biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality and have expressed that opening to same-sex marriages in ministerial leadership could break the Baptist denomination.