An Indiana Baptist church is in the spotlight after leaders announced the congregation will no longer “condone” homosexuality among its membership.

By Bob Allen

An American Baptist church in Evansville, Ind., drew local media attention with reports it has reversed its previous policy of acceptance and inclusion of members who are openly gay.

NBC television affiliate WFIE reported Aug. 21 that a paper was distributed announcing that American East Baptist Church would no longer condone homosexuality. The new policy reportedly says current gay members can be grandfathered in and any future new gay members will be decided case-by-case.

Church leaders aren’t commenting publicly, but media reports indicate the issue brought discord within the congregation including the resignation of at least one staff member. The church, currently without a permanent senior pastor, reportedly changed the policy when leaders reviewed its mission statement and decided the “homosexual lifestyle” didn’t fit.

“I believe that there are a lot of churches that don’t condone homosexuality,” church member Marla Mosher told WFIE. “I believe that there’s a difference between condoning it and accepting it. It goes in the same category as divorce, for some churches, as abortion, as affairs, those sorts of things.”

Formed in 2001 by a merger of by a merger of East Side Baptist Church, founded in 1921, and Eastern Heights Baptist Church, founded in 1959, American Baptist East is affiliated with American Baptist Churches of Indiana/Kentucky and the American Baptist Churches USA.

The church describes its purpose on its website as “to practice the ordinances of worship, baptism, fellowship, Christian education and the Lord’s Supper.”

“Further, ABE will seek to introduce unbelievers to Jesus Christ, offer healing for the hurting, and provide hope for those who are experiencing feelings of despair,” the statement continues.