FORT WORTH, Texas The senior pastor of a Baptist church embroiled in a debate over putting photos of its gay members in a church directory will be allowed to keep his pulpit.
Members of Broadway Baptist Church voted 499 to 237 on March 9 to reject an attempt to oust the Rev. Brett Younger.
"I hope we will move forward and be the church together and that others will come and share church with us," said Younger, who has led the congregation for seven years.
A group calling itself Friends for the Future of Broadway had collected more than 160 signatures on a petition calling for Younger's removal. They worried that Younger was embracing a theology they considered too liberal.
"We respect the will of the majority and pray for the congregation's healing, recovery and continued service to the community that befits a 125-year-old church," said Robert Saul, a spokesman for the group.
While the congregation is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, it has taken positions to the left of the conservative-dominated denomination.
Last year, several gay couples who belong to the church asked that their portraits be allowed to appear in the church's 125th anniversary directory. Critics said the photos could be interpreted as endorsing same-sex relationships. As a compromise, the church voted last month to publish a directory that would include member photos in "candid, small and large group pictures" but not include family portraits.