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Ky. Baptist Church to Perform First Same-Sex Wedding

The church is in the more liberal range of Baptist beliefs, but there has still been some tension surrounding the move.

BY Trudy Ring

July 03 2014 3:46 PM ET


In a groundbreaking move that has upset some members, Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., has announced plans to perform its first same-sex marriage in the spring, reports The Courier-Journal of Louisville.

In May, Highland Baptist will solemnize the union of David Bannister Jr. and Steven Carr. “It takes courage to step out into the unknown,” Pastor Joe Phelps told the newspaper. “It’s taking us courage to be one of the first churches to do this.”

Highland Baptist is not part of the ultraconservative Southern Baptist Convention, which strongly opposes marriage equality and considers homosexuality a sin. The Louisville church ended its Southern Baptist affiliation about 20 years ago over theological differences. It is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which allows member churches to set their own policies on LGBT issues (although the fellowship will not employ so-called practicing homosexuals on its own staff), and the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, which embraces a policy of “diversity and openness to any believer God calls to leadership and ministry,” according to its website.

Phelps, who joined Highland Baptist in 1997, said the church has gradually become an LGBT-welcoming congregation during his tenure. In 2012 it ordained a gay man, the Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard, who now leads the church’s gay ministry and also is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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