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The Missouri Baptist Convention severed ties with a Kansas City congregation that has performed “holy unions” for gays and lesbians as the three-day convention opened Monday in Raytown, Mo.

Convention leaders in April began the process of removing Broadway Baptist Church in Kansas City from their membership roll after newspaper stories announcing “A Day of Holy Unions” for same-sex couples at the church in March.

Broadway co-pastor Marcia Fleischman said the public ceremony was to show solidarity with “our friends in San Francisco, Oregon, Massachusetts and New York and others fighting on the front lines for justice and equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people,” according to a press release quoted in a news story.

Fleischman said the church began performing same-sex unions about five years ago and has consecrated about 20 such relationships to date.

The Southern Baptist Convention excludes from membership messengers from churches “which act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior.”

While Broadway is the first Missouri church to be removed for affirming homosexuals, similar actions have been taken in North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee.

While Broadway has technically remained a member of the Missouri convention, it hasn’t made any contributions in two years. The state convention did not send messenger cards to the church in 2002 and 2003, because it had reportedly terminated its relationship with the SBC.

The church, founded in 1872, became affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1940s. While the congregation no longer includes “Baptist” in its name, it continues to associate with the Alliance of Baptists.

According to the church Web site, Broadway “affirms and welcomes all persons of any sexual orientation, gender [or] gender identity.”

Other business expected at the Missouri convention meeting, which runs through Wednesday morning, includes a resolution inspired by a failed SBC resolution in June that proposed calling for Southern Baptist parents to pull their children out of public schools.

Roger Moran, research director for the Missouri Baptist Layman’s Association, said his resolution will not call for a pullout of public schools, according to a report in The Pathway newspaper. It rather issues a broader warning against “cultural forces,” including secular music, television programs, Hollywood movies and public education, “which systematically trains our children to think and reason within the framework of the secular philosophies of this world and according to the godless principles of this age.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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