A gay and lesbian faction has taken control of an American Baptist church in Long Beach, California, according to a report from CitizenLink, an infornmation service of Focus on the Family. "Basically, they snuck their way into the church and locked us out," said church secretary Jeff Griffith of Immanuel Baptist Church.
The lockout came, Griffith said, after a majority of the church voted to affirm orthodox requirements for membership, which effectively disqualified practicing homosexuals. The homosexual leadership, which owns the title to the church and its property, then took action.
Richard Rossi, pastor of the now-scattered church, also expressed frustration. "There were people that got in power that didn't know the Lord and should never have been in power with a gay agenda," he said. The pastor said the problems were sown before his tenure, when the church was doctrinally adrift. But he remains disturbed that Immanuel's denomination, the American Baptist Church, has pleaded for the factions to reconcile. "Reconciliation is true when you're dealing with people that truly know the Lord, but when you're dealing with a group living blatantly in the gay lifestyle, you can't reconcile with that," Rossi said.
A court battle now looms to resolve who should have possession of the million-dollar church property.