Church representatives vote to form splinter group

Posted: Friday, April 27, 2001

ATLANTA (AP) -- Representatives of 18 churches belonging to the Atlanta Baptist Association have formed a new association, citing their local group's failure to expel two churches that affirm gay leaders.

More than 50 people voted Tuesday night to elect the Rev. Bill Jagger, pastor of North Peachtree Baptist Church in Doraville, as interim moderator of the new Metro-Atlanta Southern Baptist Association.

Jagger insisted the group is not ''anti-anyone.''

''We're pro-kingdom of God, pro-Southern Baptist Convention, pro-Georgia Baptist Convention, pro-winning souls to Jesus,'' he said.

Bylaws of the new group require member churches to follow the Baptist Faith and Message, a statement of faith adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention last year that opposes homosexuality, abortion and racism.

The group will be able to seek official recognition at the Georgia Baptist Convention in November if 15 congregations complete the application process by May 10.

The Atlanta Baptist Association failed in two votes this year to expel Oakhurst and Virginia-Highland churches, both of which accept gays in leadership positions. The Georgia Baptist Convention dismissed the two churches in 1999.

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