Friday, January 20, 2006

SBTC Pastor Removed, Part 5--The Rub

Yesterday, Jan. 20, Bapist Press and Jerry Pierce (SBTC) issued yet another article in an effort to put out the fire. According to the article, Rix Tillman, pastor of Exciting Immanuel Baptist Church in El Paso and a credentials committee member, said Haney unconvincingly tried to argue to the committee that because Eklektos is not technically a church, no constitutional problem existed. “The sticking point was that he was allowing a homosexual-affirming fellowship to meet in his building,” Tillman said.“Right there on their website they said [they] are an enabling or affirming [fellowship]. It’s OK to say you welcome homosexuals, but they were saying we not only welcome them and but we also go along to affirm them. That was open and shut as far as our [SBTC] constitution goes.” Let's keep repeating this long enough, and maybe someone will believe that it was really the point to begin with.. (OK, that last part was mine, not Rix's.)

SBTC board chairman Joe Stewart said, “When we sign an agreement to be a part of the SBTC, we have those theological parameters that we live and abide through and that is part of what makes us unique and distinct.”

Please understand, I get it. I understand what Stewart is saying, but I found it interesting that in an unrelated article, I found Wade Burleson (amidst his own fiasco) saying:

"Conservatives who loved the battles of decades past have fallen victim to a crusading mentality of bloodthirst," ... "Since all the liberals are gone, conservative crusaders are now killing fellow conservatives."

The article also quotes Burleson's blog from December 10, 2005, saying:
"Sadly, the Southern Baptist Convention is now moving toward a time when everyone must look the same, talk the same, act the same, believe the same on the nonessentials of the faith, or else you will be removed as `not one of us'."


SBTC Pastor Removed, Part 4

In a unique turn of events yesterday, an AP reporter contacted Gary Ledbetter, Editor In Chief at SBTC and someone whom I consider a friend, about this whole matter. According to Ledbetter " they were not concerned about Haney starting a new church and they were not concerned about him setting up a woman as senior pastor."

Wait a minute...let me go back and read the original report submitted by Jerry Pierce......Nope. That's what I thought. Hmmmm....

According to yesterday's Baytown Sun, SBTC board chairman Joe Stewart, who is pastor of First Baptist Church of Littlefield, said the convention supports reaching out to the homosexual community but that the Eklektos ministry "goes too far".

“We do believe it’s a sin and, of course, we want to do our best to help them find the transformation that’s available in Jesus Christ,” Stewart said. “The major issue is the lady that’s leading it doesn’t even consider the homosexual lifestyle is sinful.”

Ahh...There it is.

Ledbetter goes on to say “Would we start a ministry for alcoholics that was affirming alcohol abuse in the name of love and just sort of hoping they get the idea there’s a better way to live? There’s a line that’s crossed that says we’re comfortable with the way you live and believe it’s just as good a way to live as any other even though the Bible says otherwise.”

I'm not sure that's the point. Wouldn't the point be to start a ministry that reaches out to alcoholics because you believe it's not just as good a way to live as any other? It seems that you don't take healthy people to the emergency room, but those who are critically ill. If alcoholism is OK....then just leave them alone.

Can you encourage an alcoholic without condoning alcohol abuse? Sure. Could that be misconstrued as 'affirming' alcoholics? Sure. Especially to those afraid of alcholics.

Perhaps the problem is in the language. To one, 'affirming a homosexual' could mean 'God loves you more than you realize. Let's talk about the Prince of Peace..." But to another, 'affirming a homosexual' could mean 'It's OK to have the kind of sex you're having, live the lifestye you're living, God doesn't really want you to change your behavior'. Huge difference.

Again, if I'm missing the point, I stand open and ready to receive correction. [Of course, to one, that may mean, "....]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

SBTC Removes Pastor, Part 3

If you haven’t already done so, please read the Baptist Press story here.
Read Part One of this post.
Read Part Two of this post.

To close out the evening, Biles told Haney that he had to write a letter that explained his theological postition on homosexuality, disavow the “new church”, Eklektos, disavow Wendy Bailey, and promise to never have anything to do with her again. Haney simply responded with “no”, and thus ended the meeting. Biles reported to Haney that they would be disassociating Faith Harbour, but would be giving him an opportunity to speak in his defense in their formal committee meeting back in Grapevine. (I don't think he was given an opportunity to speak to the formal committee).

FYI, here’s a quote from Wendy Bailey’s blog, the alleged ‘pastor’ of the ‘gay church’:
“Aside from the fact that Eklektos is not a “church” in any official capacity, and I am not the Senior Pastor, it’s a shame that the political climate of the SBTC is such that merely associating with a ministry outreach that does not condemn homosexuals is so threatening. Does Jesus condemn homosexuals? No, Jesus goes out of his way to associate with people the church of his day condemned, and he offered them love”
Bailey continues, “I realize that many people differ on the Biblical interpretation of Scripture surrounding issues of homosexuality. My hope is that Eklektos will minister within that controversy and seek Christ in the midst of it. I acknowledge that even the most faithful Christians can disagree over whether homosexuality is sinful — Randy and I differ on that issue — but this ministry is here to reach people who are typically ostracized and hurt by the Church, and to offer them a loving and non-judgemental community in which to seek Christ and grow in discipleship. Even if we all agreed that homosexuality was a sin, should a church require gay and lesbians to be celibate or “convert” to heterosexuality? No. Not anymore than the church should require divorced people to reconcile, wealthy people to divest their money from companies that promote unrepentant consumerism, or gluttonous people to go on diets.”

For myself, this is NOT an issue about homosexuality [and, yes, I believe it's sin]. This is an issue of reaching across denominational lines to take the gospel to every community and sub-culture in our society. From where I sit, the SBTC never acted on the matter…they only reacted. They reacted to the fact that one of their own would reach out to the gay community with the hopes of ‘going and making disciples’. The point is not homosexuality, but the manner in which the Credentials Committee moved and handled the situation.

So, thank you. Thanks to those involved for driving another wedge in the name of Christ. Maybe someday they will realize why so many of my generation have completely unplugged from denominational life. Maybe they’ll realize that by their actions, as well as other similar organizations, they are giving us passion to preach the gospel. Wherever. Whenever. By whatever means necessary. The Good News is too important to be locked up in a tower with imported Italian marble floors.


Am I way off base here? Have I missed the point? Is there some glaring truth that I'm not seeing? Again, if I'm missing the big picture, I humbly ask to be shown my error.

SBTC Removes Pastor, Part 2

If you haven’t already done so, please read the Baptist Press story here:

Read part one of this post.

If the BP report was accurate, I would have a completely different opinion on the action taken. I personally interviewed Randy Haney, pastor of Faith Harbour, at 3:30 on the afternoon of December 21st. With his permission, I humbly submit the following information to the trustees, executive board, staff, and members of the SBTC. If I am in error, I would welcome your correction according to Matthew 18.

On Monday, December 19th, Haney received a phone call from the pastor at FBC, Galena Park [also Executive VP of the SBTC] casually saying, “Can a couple of guys and I meet with you tomorrow? I’d like to visit with you about how your ministry is going…”

The Executive Committee rallied at the Golden Corral, along with a couple of SBTC staffers to ‘prepare’ for the confrontation. The nine men then went to The Harbour to meet with Haney at 5pm and accuse him of starting a new gay church in Baytown.

When Haney asked how the SBTC heard such an outlandish report, Biles replied, “One of our convention pastors contacted me and told me the news.”

“I assured them that I was not starting a new church and gave them a brief history of my relationship with Wendy Bailey”, said Haney, “I met her when she was the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Baytown. I was interested in getting to know her and her family because of our mutual support of the Baytown Little Theater… Our families did some things together and she approached me one day, about 6 months ago, about trying to reach out to the gay, lesbian community of Baytown. I also teach school at Sterling High School and see this community in our school on a daily basis. I was interested in talking with her and thus began the idea to start a new ministry.”

“In November”, Haney continued, “we met with about 6 people to discuss a strategy for starting a ministry that would not be directly affiliated with any church. After several planning sessions we decided to have a worship service at The Harbour, the coffeehouse/ music venue where Faith Harbour meets. That meeting took place on December 22, two days after the meeting with the credentials committee. After this brief discussion the committee was still interested in why I was starting a new church. We argued most of the night over the fact that I was not starting a new church. They quoted from my blog site some things that Wendy had written, but none of these comments stated that we were starting a new church.”

They also quoted from a website that piggybacked on The Harbour’s site. Wendy had started a website [], but no one could link to that website from The Harbour [].

[continue to Part 3]

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

SBTC Removes Pastor Over Homosexuality Controversy

According to Jerry Pierce, Managing Editor for the SBTC Texan, their executive board has acted unanimously to disaffiliate a church for violating the convention’s constitutional provision concerning churches that “affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”I

n a report written by the Minister/Church Relations Director Deron Biles, he and another staff member, along with the SBTC credentials committee, met Dec. 20 for one hour and 45 minutes with the pastor of Faith Harbour, Randy Haney, with a “redemptive aim” according to Matthew 18.

Biles recounted that the committee hoped to clarify Faith Harbour’s stance toward a church it is helping sponsor and allowing to meet in its facilities, which bills itself on its website as welcoming and affirming of homosexual, bisexual and trangendered people. Allegedly, the new “church”, Eklektos, has a female senior pastor [Wendy Bailey]. By the way, you can read Wendy Bailey's blog on the incident.
Please read the Baptist Press story here:

Geez. [sniff. sniff.] I think there's more to this story than meets the eye.

Why? Because I personally know the guy. Randy Haney, pastor at Faith Harbour in Baytown, is a 'conservative emergent'-type who wholeheartedly believes the act of homosexual sex is wrong. When I talked with Randy on the phone last night, he told me "if I didn't think homosexuality was wrong, I wouldn't be involved with this ministry! My goal is to take the redemptive gospel to the gay and lesbian community, that they know that God has a better plan for them."

So?.....What's the deal? I'm not sure at this point. Having known Randy over 15 years, and also having known the inner workings of convention life, I know that there's more to this than BP is telling us. We'll see how this develops...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Clear the stage

We're doing it wrong. Worship is not about lights and bands and cool clothes and songs that make me feel good.

Consider the words of Ross King:

Clear the stage
and set the sound and lights ablaze
if that’s the measure you must take
to crush the idols.

Check the pews
and all the decorations, too
and tell the congregations few,
then have revival.

Tell your friends
that this is where the party ends,
until you’re broken for your sins
you can’t be social.

Seek the lord
and wait for what he has in store
and know that great is your reward
and just be hopeful.

You can sing all you want to,
Yes you can sing all you want to,
You can sing all you want to and still get it wrong.
Worship is more than a song.

Take a break
from all the plans that you have made
and sit at home alone and wait
for God to whisper.

Beg Him please
to open up his mouth and speak
and pray for real upon your knees
until they blister.

Shine a light
on every corner of your life
until the pride and lust and lies
are in the open.

Then read the Word
and put to test the things you’ve heard
until your heart and soul is stirred
and rocked and broken.

You can sing all you want to,
Yes you can sing all you want to,
You can sing all you want to and still get it wrong.
Worship is more than a song.

Anything I put before my God is an idol.
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.
Anything that I give all my love is an idol.
We must not worship something that’s not even worth it.
Clear the stage.
Make some space
For the One who deserves it.

I can sing all I want to,
Yes I can sing all I want to.
I can sing all I want to and still get it wrong.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Pat Robertson At It Again

Devil Laid Veep Low, Evangelist Says
One week after claiming that God had caused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke, the Reverend Pat Robertson today said that Satan had given Vice President Dick Cheney the shortness of breath that resulted in his brief hospitalization on Monday.
"Vice President Cheney is dedicated to defeating the evildoers in Iraq, and that angered the evilest doer of all, Satan," Rev. Robertson said on today's edition of his religious talk show, "The 700 Club."
Rev. Robertson pointed out, however, that four hours after Satan sent Mr. Cheney to the hospital, the vice president was released because "God made him better."
He also extended his best wishes for a fast recovery to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was involved over the weekend in what the evangelist called "a motorcycle accident that I'm pretty sure was caused by Satan."
According to Re. Robertson, after he heard that Gov. Schwarzenegger's motorcycle had crashed with a car, "My first thought was that the car had been driven either by Satan or maybe by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela."
Mr. Schwarzenegger suffered only minor injuries, Rev. Robertson said, proving that "try as he might, Satan is no match for a Republican."
A spokesman for Gov. Schwarzenegger offered no comment on Rev. Robertson's comments, but said that the fifteen stitches the governor had received on his lip had made him "even more difficult to understand than before."
Elsewhere, experts said that weeks before the avian flu reaches the United States, counterfeit knockoffs of the avian flu would be available across China.

*disclaimer: the above is a parody, and is not really true as far as we can tell...but, then again, it's Pat. There's still time...

The Evan Has Landed

Welcome to my newest nephew, and the newest male of the Cottar tribe, Evan Alexander. You can get the full story here.