This fact sheet serves to clarify media reports regarding the recent recognition by the Deacons of Highland Baptist Church to approve and bless the request of a same-sex couple who are members of the church to be married at Highland.
Deacons and their role in the recognition and recommendation process
Part of the mission of Deacons at Highland Baptist Church is discernment, where an elected body of members serves as a voice for the congregation and sounding board for the staff on issues important to the life of the church. It was in this role that the Deacons recommended to approve the request for marriage instead of taking the issue to the church for a vote. This is within their rights and responsibilities as elected leaders within the life of the church.
Highland Baptist Church’s affiliations with other Baptist bodies
Highland Baptist Church is a community of faith in the free-church tradition of Christian denominations. While the church chooses to affiliate with larger Baptist bodies, the decisions made by the congregation are locally autonomous and are a matter of this church’s particular interpretation of the Bible and the church’s doctrine. Highland is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Baptist Churches in Louisville and same-sex marriage
Highland Baptist Church is not the first Baptist church in Louisville to decide to begin performing same-sex marriages. Crescent Hill Baptist Church made that decision in June 2013.
Legality of same-sex marriages in Kentucky churches
We believe there are differences in state and church obligations regarding marriage. There are state rights and obligations that flow from the execution of a civil marriage license, flowing from state laws as opposed to the church. As a church, we have no say in this aspect of marriage.
On the other hand, there are vows and sacred rituals in marriages that we do handle as a church, including the sacred oaths
made within a couple and between the couple and God. It is this sacred ritual within the life of the church that the Deacons speak about when making this decision.
Further statements from Highland Baptist Church on this topic
There will be no further statements from any leader or member at Highland Baptist Church before our Congregational Conversation on Sunday, June 8. Our primary responsibility is to our church, and we honor that by limiting this full discussion first among our congregation.
General information about Highland Baptist Church
Joe Phelps is Pastor of Highland Baptist Church, leading services of worship on Fridays at 7:00 p.m. and Sundays at 8:30, 9:30, and 11:00 a.m. at 1101 Cherokee Road in the Highlands.
For more information, call Highland Baptist Church at (502) 451-3735 or visit the website at www.hbclouisville.org.