New Policy on Blessing of Same Gender Unions
Unanimously Approved Motion from First Baptist McMinnville Official Board, April 10, 2013
The Official Board, as elected representatives of FBC McMinnville, make the following affirmations:
1) We wholeheartedly affirm that a core value of FBC is our respect for diversity within the congregation.* We affirm that there is room within the life of FBC McMinnville for diverse perspectives on all sorts of topics, including the Blessing of Same Gender Unions.**
2) We affirm the right and responsibility of our present pastor and future pastors to follow their conscience as to whether or not to officiate at a Blessing of Same Gender Union. And we affirm the right and responsibility of each member of First Baptist to follow their conscience as to whether or not to participate in such a Blessing ceremony.
3) The Official board believes that the Blessing of Same Gender Unions on the church grounds is consistent with the values and will of the majority of the congregation and that it is a matter of justice to allow this Blessing ceremony at First Baptist Church. We respect the conscience of those within the life of the congregation who disagree.
4) We affirm that our congregation is blessed by the involvement and giftedness of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters; indeed we are blessed with the rich diversity of all who call FBC home.
5) We affirm the importance of understanding and living out our historic Baptist distinctive as relates to issues within the congregation and wider community.***
* In September – November 2004, at the behest of the Official Board, the congregation of First Baptist Church, McMinnville entered upon a seven week study on whether to authorize the blessing of same gender unions. Upon completion of that study the board in 2005 authorized such a blessing ceremony with the following statement: “In that at present, there is not consensus within the congregation, we ask that the Blessing of Unions be held off the church grounds until that time as there may be consensus. We take this stance, understanding that what takes place within the church building is generally reflective of the shared beliefs and values of the entire congregation.” Please note change in policy as stated in affirmation #3 above.
** Blessing of Same Gender Union, is a Christian ritual officiated by a pastor of the congregation and entered into at the request of a same gender couple. In the ritual the couple affirms their lifelong commitment to one another, to a life of faith, love, respect and fidelity. Before invited family and friends, the couple seeks the blessing of God and the blessing of the gathered community. This ritual of union is for those who participate in the life of FBC and is preceded by an intentional time of counseling by the pastor. The Blessing of a Same Gender Union is a religious ceremony akin to a wedding. A marriage is a legal ceremony and can only be authorized by a State.
*** Baptist Distinctives ( i.e. Soul Freedom, Bible Freedom, autonomy of local church, separation of church and state, are to be found in the book by Walter Shurden, Four Fragile Freedoms.
Members of Official Board: Bill Apel, Bruce Wyatt, Kent Harrop, Barbara Nelson, Georgine Benner, Jane Apel, Tim Duerfeldt, , Heidi Reinker Nancy Vasquez, Geoff Clayton, Jan Munk, Shelly Sanderlin, Don Watson.