Members of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas voted on a resolution that could grant LGBT members full membership in the church. Senior pastor George Mason said the Baptist General Convention has warned it could expel the church from the Texas Baptist convention if the resolution passes.
"Our church knows that there are consequences of our decision," Mason said. "We think there will be many positive consequences for being able to say to the LGBT community that they are welcome here fully, in Christ."
The resolution on the church's website reads:
"...would permit all members to participate in congregational life on the same basis as any other church member regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This affirms the ability of the church’s committees and lay and staff governance structures to consider all members for leadership, ordination, baby dedication and marriage based upon individual merit and the discernment of those duly elected to governance positions."
"This is not an easy decision. I mean, this is cutting to the core of very strong beliefs that people have on both sides," said Casey Boland. She has been a member of the Wilshire Baptist Church for 10 years.
"The reasons that have been used for why people should vote ‘no' are the same reasons that were used for - why divorced people should not be allowed to be in the church, why blacks and whites should not be allowed to be married, why women should not be pastors. It just, in my view, rings hallow.” said Boland.
But many in the church are opposed to the resolution and planned to vote against the change. Some members, who wished not to go on camera, said much of it is based on what they have been taught.
Pastor Mason said, "Everyone who disagrees with us does not hate gay people. They just have a different way of understanding what are the boundaries that a church ought to exercise in its love and acceptance of all people."
The church, with some 1,600 active members, took a final vote on the issue Sunday morning.
Results of the vote were expected to be released to church members via email on Monday, November 14.