University Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, is looking for a new denominational home after being kicked out of its local association for being pro-gay.

By Bob Allen

An American Baptist church in Ohio has been excommunicated from its association and state region after going on record as welcoming and affirming gays.

Tommy Faris, pastor of University Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, said the church has received a letter from the Columbus Baptist Association informing them they have been removed from fellowship. Since congregations affiliate with the American Baptist Churches of Ohio through their association, he said, the decision effectively expels University from that group as well.

A past issue of the church newsletter indicated that members of the congregation knew it might result in separation from the association and region when they voted Oct. 30, 2011, to join the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, an organization of about 75 mostly American Baptist churches that extend full membership to persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Faris said University Baptist intends to remain a member of American Baptist Churches, USA. The ABC/USA affiliation can continue on an ad hoc basis for up to 18 months, and in the meantime the church will seek to relate to the national body through the American Baptist Churches of Rochester/Genessee Region in New York, one of several American Baptist regions open to congregations forced out of other ABC/USA affiliates over theological differences.

Established in 1993 after the ABC/USA General Board passed a resolution affirming “that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” AWAB today includes several formerly Southern Baptist churches, including congregations like Pullen Memorial and Olin T. Binkley Memorial churches in North Carolina kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention for coming out in support of gays.

In addition to its American Baptist identity, University Baptist in Columbus is also affiliated with the Alliance Baptists, a group formed in 1987 out of the throes of the inerrancy debate that divided the Southern Baptist Convention in the closing decades of the 20th century.