Canadian church threatened with losing charity status for revoking woman's membership over same-sex relationship


I used to have a friend who was a member of an Independent Baptist Church. Her father was the pastor, actually. They were very strict about requirements for membership and also had closed communion, quarterly. They would definitely revoke membership for someone who had “backslidden” and wasn’t willing to repent. They would assume you were no longer saved if it were found out you were in a homosexual relationship.


Even among Southern Baptist Churches, there is probably varying practices. Many SBC churches require members to affirm a “church covenant” and would most definitely excommunicate members for violating such a covenant. Now, they may not call it excommunication, but it’s essentially a removal from the privileges of membership–which include communion.

Of course, a Baptist church does have an authority structure. The bishop/elder is the pastor. Some Baptist churches also have a board of lay elders. And there is always a group of lay deacons. All of these are elected by the congregation, which is ultimately the final authority though typically they follow the lead of their elected leaders.

A Baptist church can excommunicate someone. In some churches, this task may be delegated to the pastor and elders/deacons, but I would guess that in many Baptist congregations there is a rule that requires a congregational vote to fully excommunicate or “disfellowship” someone. If they tell a member that they are withdrawn from membership and all the privileges of such membership (which include taking communion) then by definition they have been excommunicated.


I don’t want to go point for point with you. But I must be clear that the Baptist Church cannot excommunicate anyone. By definition, excommunication denies the person Holy Communion and the other sacraments. (The person can be restored by full repentance.)

The Southern Baptist Church I know does not have sacraments. They do have ordinances, but separation from these ordinance offer cannot bar you from salvation. Once saved, always saved. They can give a member “the left foot of fellowship.” But that person can go to any other SB church they want to. But they might have to go a couple of towns away.

And in my church, people were called brother and sister – including the pastor. He was given immense respect. And yes, the pastor is voted into his job. And he can be voted out, if necessary. The second pastor I knew was nearly voted out of office.


You can define excommunication narrowly, but broadly defined, denying someone the right to take communion (whether you believe it’s symbolic or not) is, essentially, excommunication because you are expelling them from communion. Whether they can go to another church or not is irrelevant to what the church in question does.

He is still an authority in the church. Pastors, elders, deacons and congregational meetings are all authorities because they have “authority” to make decisions, like remove people from membership for violating church rules or beliefs.

Correct, but that’s really irrelevant when considering whether a church can deny access to the ordinances. Clearly, Baptist churches can and do deny access in cases of church discipline. Yes, Baptists don’t believe it affects one’s salvation, but it is necessary as part of disciplining a church member who is living in open and notorious sin and protecting the rest of the congregation. There is the visible and invisible church. The congregation’s responsibility is to protect the integrity of the visible church. Hence, excommunication or disfellowship or withdrawing the right hand of fellowship or whatever you want to call it.

And sorry for carrying this on. I realize Baptists come in all shapes and sizes, so there probably are Baptist churches that don’t believe you can excommunicate someone or who call it something different.


I’ll let you have the last word. God bless you.


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