Missouri Baptist church in Kansas City says it will ‘marry’ homosexual couple
By Bob Baysinger
March 16, 2004
KANSAS CITY – Broadway Baptist Church of Kansas City – a contributor to the Cooperative Program through the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) as recently as 2002 – has announced that it will conduct “A Day of Holy Unions" for same-sex couples on March 27.
Broadway is still listed in Southern Baptist and Missouri Baptist records as a participating church. The church’s co-pastor, Paul Smith, has been honored by pro-homosexual organizations and is also listed in the MBC and SBC Annuals’ list of pastors.
Jay Hughes, MBC Controller, said Broadway is still technically a part of the Missouri Baptist Convention even though the church has given nothing to CP this year or last year.
“They still have a number in our system," Hughes said.
Broadway announced through the Kansas City Star recently that it wanted to join the national debate on homosexual “marriage" with the special day later this month.
MBC leaders said Broadway in no way represents the beliefs of the MBC.
“(Missouri Baptist) churches are not to surrender to the world, but stand on the Word," said Kenny Qualls, MBC executive associate director, in response to Broadway’s announced plans.
“We are all sinners in need of a savior. Homosexuality is a sin, but there is freedom in forgiveness through Jesus Christ. This same-sex ceremony flies in the face of Scripture and is an attack on what the Bible defines as marriage."
Marcia Fleischman, Broadway’s co-pastor, said in a press release that the action is being taken “in celebration and solidarity with our friends in San Francisco , Oregon , Massachusetts and New York and others fighting on the front lines for justice and equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people."
She said the 10-15 minute ceremony will involve an exchange of vows, Scripture readings, a blessing and a prayer. Each couple, Fleischman said, will receive a certificate of “holy union."
Broadway at one time was a full-participating member of the MBC through CP giving and missions offerings. An examination of MBC records shows that Broadway’s decreasing participation in MBC activities coincided with the resurgence of Missouri Baptist conservatives.
Broadway gave $4,125 to the Cooperative Program in 1990 and continued the giving up through 1994 when CP gifts were $2,300. The church cut off its CP giving in 1995 and sent no more money to the Cooperative Program until sending $400 in 2002.
“Broadway may still have a number in our system," Qualls said. “Biblically, however, they left this convention a long time ago."
Smith was honored in 1995 by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). Smith has authored one book — Is It Okay to Call God Mother? —and is working on a second titled, Why Hell Will Be Empty: A Biblical Case for Why Everyone Will Be Reconciled in Christ.
Fleischman said Broadway began performing same-sex “unions" about five years ago, with about 20 having been consummated to date.
“Now we want to do it publicly to add our voice to the national conversation," she said. “We want all to know that here is a church that believes that gay marriages should be blessed and affirmed.
“I think this is the civil rights issue of the 21st century, and I think it is difficult for people who are not oppressed to understand how people’s rights are being violated. We need to listen to the gay and lesbian community where the laws are not protecting them."
Broadway describes itself on its Web page as a church that welcomes all “persons of any sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race ethnicity, differing abilities, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status or any persons who have been spiritually disenfranchised."
The church’s Web page also includes links to four pro-homosexual sites: The Fairness Project, Soulforce, Recovery From Bible Abuse and Whosoever.
The Southern Baptist Convention Constitution defines membership in the SBC as “churches in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work.
“Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior," the Constitution states in Article III.