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Division over lesbian Baptist Church council

Baptist Church baptismA baptism in Norway. The Baptists perform this ritual on grown-ups, in stark contrast to most other congregations. Photo: http://migrantmenigheter.no

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Division over lesbian Baptist Church council member

The Baptist Church in Bærum is threatened with exclusion from the Norwegian Baptist Union after electing a married, lesbian woman as a member of the parish council.

 


The Baptist Church in Bærum elected a woman – married to another woman – on the parish council before Christmas last year, writes VG.

Many in the Baptist Union believe that this is problematic and contrary to its guidelines. A statement from 2000 is, for example, negative to homosexual cohabitation.

During this weekend’s national congress, it was decided that a long-term dialogue should be held to find a solution both for the actual parish in particular and for the Baptist Union as such.

Diverging interpretation

The decision is, however, interpreted differently by the concerned parties.

“We fear that the Executive Board will enter into the dialogue with the clear aim to make Bærum Baptist Church reconsider, and overturn its decision. If so, that is a conversation we do not welcome,” Pastor of the Baptist Church in Bærum, Kent Remi Westergren, tells VG.

Secretary-General of the Baptist Union in Norway, Terje Aadne, state that the governance enters into the dialogue with the parish with the aim to reach a unifying outcome, both for the parish and the Baptist Community.

 


Baptist feedback

The Central Board of the denomination has – ever since the election of the lesbian, married woman last year – asked for feedback from its congregations.

In the responses, summarized during the national assembly, it emerges:

  • 47 of the congregations respond that they cannot accept the practice in Bærum
  • 10 congregations are divided in the view of what the consequences should be.
  • 13 congregations do not agree with the election in Bærum but do not want the congregation excluded.
  • A mere two congregations have expressed support for the parish.

A congregation in Oslo – with a practising gay council member – was excluded from the Norwegian Baptist Union as recently as in 2006.


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today
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