The California Southern Baptist Convention’s (CSBC) Executive Board voted on September 11th to withdraw fellowship from New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, California, because of the congregation’s decision to be gay-affirming.
Three months prior, New Heart’s pastor Danny Cortez created a media firestorm when he announced that he no longer believes that all homosexual behavior is sinful. (Cortez is also scheduled to speak at a pro-gay Christian conference in Washington D.C. this coming November.)
The 35 members present at the meeting of the California board voted unanimously in favor of the decision to expel the New Heart. They cited as rationale The Baptist Faith and Message, which states, “Christians should oppose … all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.”
The Executive Board met with New Heart’s leadership before deliberating. New Heart released the following statement in response to receiving news of the decision on September 12:
We understand that some of our leaders’ actions have been perceived as moving away from the Baptist Faith and Message, and we affirm that the California Southern Baptist Convention leadership has had to make a difficult decision. At the foundation of our discernment has been to take seriously Jesus’ high priestly prayer regarding the unity of the church. Our congregation, then, desires to hold our disagreements in tension as we seek fellowship with one another, and as we have sought fellowship with our denomination.
We want to make it clear that while our hope has been to stay within the SBC denomination, we nonetheless hold them dearly as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We ask that God bless them, and bless us, as we all attempt to navigate this very difficult period of church history.
May God help us all.