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NAMB-endorsed chaplain leaves SBC after gay marriage story


ALPHARETTA (BP) — A chaplain endorsed by the North American Mission Board informed the agency July 19 that he’s leaving the Southern Baptist Convention following an Associated Press story that included his presence at a military gay marriage ceremony.

Air Force Chaplain (Col.) Timothy Wagoner supervises chaplains of lower rank and other faiths at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Wrightstown, NJ.

“Southern Baptists love and pray for our chaplains. That being said, we only want to endorse chaplains who can support Baptist doctrine and belief without reservation,” said Kevin Ezell, NAMB’s president. “When it comes to what our chaplains believe and practice, we do ask and we do expect them to tell.”

The North American Mission Board’s executive director for chaplaincy, Douglas Carver, reiterated a week earlier that Southern Baptist military chaplains endorsed by NAMB on behalf of the convention do not support same-sex civil unions or marriages that might take place on some military installations.

Carver’s statement followed a news article published by the AP implying that Wagoner condoned a same-sex ceremony that took place on his base, describing him as “watching supportively” during the civil union. At the time, the 20-year NAMB-endorsed chaplain strongly refuted the news story.

“When the AP story first came out, we contacted Chaplain Wagoner and he assured us he was either misinterpreted or quoted out of context in the story,” Carver said.

As part of its endorsement process, NAMB assesses chaplain candidates based on their doctrine, beliefs, ministry experience, and history as Southern Baptists. Each applicant is required to indicate agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, that clearly lists one man, one woman marriage as the only biblical standard for marriage.

Several resolutions approved by SBC messengers in recent annual meetings – including one this year at the New Orleans meeting – also affirm support for one man, one woman marriage.

The United States military requires that all of its chaplains have the endorsement of an established faith group. NAMB is the endorsing entity for chaplains on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention. There are 1,450 Southern Baptist chaplains serving the United States Armed Services.

“If an SBC chaplain concludes he cannot conduct his ministry in harmony with SBC beliefs and doctrine, then it is best to part ways,” Ezell said.