Seminary moving forward with plans to evict association

January 19, 2011

FORT WORTH, Texas (ABP) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
has indicated in a second letter that it intends to pursue its claim to
office space currently used by Tarrant Baptist Association, apparently
because the association retains as a member a church that was kicked out
of the Southern Baptist Convention for its acceptance of gays.

Al Meredith, moderator of Tarrant Baptist Association, told the Baptist Standard
that he received a letter Jan. 18 indicating seminary officials still
want the association out of the office building it has long occupied on
the edge of the seminary campus in Fort Worth, Texas.

The
seminary previously sent a registered letter Dec. 12 giving the
association six months to vacate the offices under terms of a 1997
affiliation agreement requiring the two organizations be in "theological
harmony." Meredith said in a letter to associational leaders that the
seminary's December letter said the association has one or more member
churches that do not act in accordance with an article in the Baptist Faith and Message that declares homosexuality immoral.

Tarrant Baptist Association member congregations include Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth. The Southern Baptist Convention expelled
the congregation in 2009 after an investigation into a dispute within
the church over whether to include portraits of same-sex couples in a
church directory failed to convince Baptist leaders that Broadway met a
membership guideline excluding churches that "act to affirm, approve or
endorse homosexual behavior."

Broadway chose
not to send messengers that year to the Baptist General Convention of
Texas in order to avoid a similar confrontation. Last September the
church voted
to discontinue its relationship with the BGCT, saying the church wants
to carry on its ministries without being distracted by questions about
its position on homosexuality.

Broadway Pastor Brent Beasley told the Dallas Morning News "it would be safe to assume" the reference in the seminary's letter was to his church.

In addition to the homosexuality concern, Meredith said the original
seminary letter said the association hasn't been helpful enough in
helping students and faculty seeking preaching jobs in Tarrant
Association churches, and that Southwestern needs the space for offices
or a welcome center.

Meredith says he does not believe the
seminary has legal authority to end the affiliation agreement
unilaterally, and after an initial meeting with seminary officials he
hoped the situation could be resolved without severing the long-term
partnership agreement.

After receiving the second letter,
however, Meredith said association leaders would discuss a response at a
regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 24 of the association's executive
board.