First Baptist Church Jacksonville holds open mic following controversial gender, sexuality document

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — First Baptist Church Jacksonville held an open mic Sunday night following a controversy caused by their recently released “Statement on Biblical Sexuality.”

This statement requires members of the church to sign a statement acknowledging there are just two genders and that marriage is only heterosexual in order to remain members of the church. In a recent statement on its website, the church acknowledged that this agreement “inspired concern, questions, and anger.”

However, at Sunday’s open forum, Senior Pastor Heath Lambert also clarified the document and its ramifications.

A signature of the document is only required to remain a member of the church, not to be able to attend the church. This is a distinction that Lambert stressed during the open forum and that a member of the congregation elaborated for Action News Jax as they were leaving Sunday night.

“You would need to be a member to be a deacon; You would need to be a member to be a teacher; You would need to be a member to hold a position on staff here of any authority or anything like that,” explained Mark Rutzen after Sunday’s open mic.

RELATED: First Baptist Church Jacksonville requiring controversial agreement document for members

Nonetheless, regardless of this distinction, not everyone in the congregation agrees with this approach, with some members speaking out Sunday night.

“We need to love on one another and embrace one another. Not to judge, not to separate,” said Sheri Lynn, a community member. “It’s not for us to leave them out, we have to bring them to God.”

However, where there is dissent, there is also support, as members of the congregation also spoke in favor of this initiative.

Lambert previously told Action News Jax in an interview that from a Christian perspective, there is nothing controversial about this “Statement on Biblical Sexuality” at all. In fact, Lambert said it’s rooted in long-standing Christian beliefs. When Action News Jax spoke to Rutzen Sunday night, he was in agreement with this, alongside many other members of the congregation during Sunday’s meeting.

“We’re all doing what we believe is the right thing based on what the Bible says,” said Rutzen.

More information on this “Statement on Biblical Sexuality” can be found on the First Baptist Church Jacksonville website by clicking here.

The controversial agreement requires church members to acknowledge that there are only two genders, and that marriage is exclusively heterosexual began to be distributed by First Baptist Church.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

Comments on this article