Pastor of Kentucky Church Severed From Baptists Over LGBT Inclusion: Not Activism, Just Honesty

On November 11 Kentucky’s Southern Baptists voted overwhelmingly at their annual state meeting to sever ties with the historically important Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville citing the church’s unequivocal commitment to LGBT inclusion. They did so in spite of Crescent Hill’s plea that the church be allowed to remain a part of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

In 2013 Crescent Hill, after a process of congregational discernment, announced that sexual orientation would not be a factor in future considerations about who they will ordain, hire, or perform a wedding ceremony for. Crescent Hill Baptist Church also voted in 2013 to join AWAB, the national Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. The church is preparing to host their first same-sex marriage next month.

The 106-year-old Crescent Hill congregation is adjacent to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and before the fundamentalist takeover of the seminary in the early 1990s Crescent Hill was the spiritual home for many students, staff, and distinguished professors.

Today the 800-member church is a diverse community of faith including people of various races, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation, and world-views. Refugees and immigrants compose roughly one-third of the congregation. The church is heavily invested in a wide array of social ministries in the Commonwealth, the U.S., and the world.

Below are excerpts from a conversation with the young, intelligent, and energetic pastor Jason Crosby.

What was the process like that led Crescent Hill to adopt an unequivocal commitment to LGBT inclusion?

I’ve been at Crescent Hill seven years. I came about the time that folks from Burma began arriving in large numbers and uniting in membership with Crescent Hill, and much of my time in those early years was spent trying to figure out how in the world we might be able to be a unified body that includes people who don’t speak English, who have a completely foreign background and cultural experience.

It took a lot of hard work but we reached a place a number of years ago where, while things are far from perfect, things work. We have learned how to be in community with others who are radically different from us. About three years ago we realized that in order to be authentic to gay and lesbian individuals in the pews and in our community we needed to clarify how we were going to be in relationship with these folks.

I found that because we had in the previous years learned how to be in relationship, one that is fully welcoming and affirming of folks who are so radically different from us, that really helped us have conversations about how we were going to be in conversation with people who were already long-standing members of our church and in leadership positions and loved and had modeled Christ for us and who happened to be gay and lesbian.

So the coming of folks from Burma and their incorporation, and our incorporation into them, their incorporation into us so that we might be one church, laid the groundwork for us and it paved the way.

When we began to have some conversations and began to discern how we were going to be in relationship with LGBT folks in spring of 2013 it became evident to me, and I think to others, that it was a pretty simple move to make. We studied the Bible, we prayed, and we heard testimonies from those who were gay and lesbian in our church and beyond our church about how church had helped or hurt them in their journey. All around that was the fact that if we can do what we had done with folks from Burma then this is not a difficult step for us to make.

How would you characterize your conversation with Kentucky Baptist Convention leaders leading up to Crescent Hill’s expulsion from the KBC?

Although not extensive, we did have a fair amount of communication with Kentucky Baptist Convention leaders in the month that led up to the vote to dismiss us. Those conversations were cordial. They were not heated. They were pragmatic in nature and I appreciate that there was a clear channel of communication between those leaders and us.

How has your church family taken this ending of a 100+ year relationship?

With mixed emotions, as you can imagine. So many folks at Crescent Hill are like me. They grew up in Southern Baptist churches and it was in those places we were first taught the Bible. Those teachings have brought many of us at Crescent Hill to where we are regarding this matter today. There’s genuine sadness, for me and many others, but at same time we are delighted and greatly encouraged by the fact that so many people are reaching out to us and want to learn more about this matter and about how we got to the place where we are. There also is gladness for the opportunity to forge new relationships and to do new ministry that articulates the love of God.

Listening to you it seems fair to say that Crescent Hill does not see itself as an activist church on this issue.

I think Crescent Hill sees itself as Crescent Hill and this is wholly consistent with the DNA of Crescent Hill that’s been in place since at least 1926 when Southern Baptist Seminary moved from Broadway downtown to the hill on which it is currently situated. Crescent Hill was formed in 1908. I feel confident in saying that this is who we are and this is pretty much who we always have been. It doesn’t feel very activist to us. It really just feels like being honest.


  •' Frank6548 says:

    Another church denying the Will of God. So sad.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    Crescent Hill may not see themselves as activists, but you can see the point of view of the Southern Baptist organization. If you allow one church to be inclusive, pretty soon others will follow. There are no hard feelings, but it seems best for everyone to go their own way.

  •' NavyBlues05 says:

    Another “my way or the highway” situation generated by a 2000+ year old book of folk tales.

  •' Corey says:

    “Will of God” Which one?

  •' Andre M says:

    Hey Frankay! You 53? Single? Catholic?

  •' craig gosling says:

    If they all sat down and prayed together, would their god resolve their problem?

  •' Frank6548 says:

    There’s only one.

  •' Andre M says:

    If you’re talking about Highlanders, then yes, there can only be one.

    But, Franky baby, I’m trying to figure out. Are you 53, single, and Catholic?

  •' Frank6548 says:

    What problem? God already declared sexuality and marriage to be between man and woman.

  •' Andre M says:

    Well the real problem Franky, is this:

    Are you a single, 53-year old Catholic?

  •' The Word of Truth says:

    The only god frank recognizes is the one in his bathroom mirror.

  •' Frank6548 says:

    Oh the irony.

  •' andrew123456789 says:

    It seems to me that severing from the Southern Baptist Convention would be good for any church. Follow Christ, not an institution. The SBC is the farthest thing there can be from “Christlike.”

  •' andrew123456789 says:

    You be sad, I’ll be happy. I’m happy for this church. I guess I could be sad that you say such freaky things, but really it’s none of my business.

  •' andrew123456789 says:

    I hope there’s a point to this question. Older single Catholics are just older single Catholics. Are you attempting to draw a generalization? It won’t be scientifically valid.

  •' Andre M says:

    Oh go on, you tautologizer!

  •' Andre M says:

    Hey, Frank! Come on now! You a 53-year-old Catholic? You single, buddy?

  •' Laurence Charles Ringo says:

    How about a single,60-year old Protestant?–Your point being…?

  •' Andre M says:

    I’m just asking questions here.

  •' andrew123456789 says:

    I don’t think that word means what you think it means. I’m asking why you keep asking that. I’m not crazy about what Frank writes either, but his age and marital status are irrelevant in and of themselves. That’s not a tautology; that’s logically sound.

  •' PastorM says:

    Mike Greer–wonderful article. Contact me sometime. We can reconnect from our PHA days.

  •' Andre M says:

    “Older single Catholics are just older single Catholics” That is a tautology.
    But in any case, what is the harm in asking Frank a question? I haven’t surmised anything based on it yet, have I?

  •' Frank6548 says:

    He has been reduced to foolishness. Surprise, surprise.

  •' andrew123456789 says:

    Ah, okay, you were being silly. My point is that you cannot draw any worthy conclusions on this particular topic based on the answer to that pointless question. But he’s not going to answer anyway.

  •' pennyjane says:

    as often as Jesus talked of love and compassion trumping dogma, you’d think that somewhere along the way anyone with the ability to read the bible they so viciously thump would pick up on it…..but, hate and bigotry trump about everything in the hearts of those who worship satan……frank.

  •' Andre M says:

    But, Frank, seriously. Why are you avoiding the question? Are you a 53 year old, single Catholic?

  •' Andre M says:

    I’m not being silly. I’m just asking questions here.

  •' andrew123456789 says:

    I mean you’re being silly calling me a “tautologizer”. Now I’m going to stop feeding this completely pointless conversation between you and me. Peace.

  •' Andre M says:

    Well, it was tautological. An apple is an apple. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be red, overripe, wormy, grown in Wisconsin, the product of unfairly-compensated labor. And even though it is an apple, it is also a fruit. You have no idea why I’m asking what I’m asking. And Frank is not really someone who needs defending… you’re just feeding into his persecution-complex.

  •' Murmur1 says:

    Congratulations and thank you to Jason Crosby and the Crescent Hill church for their leadership and courage in this matter. May the Lord richly bless you.

  •' andrew123456789 says:

    Do shut up.

  •' Andre M says:

    I’d prefer not to.

  •' Jeff Tilley says:

    I’d like to take a moment here and congratulate the Southern Baptist Convention for once more standing up for its convictions and not bending to the current trends in our society. Sexual rights are NOT human rights – the bible makes that clear. The Southern Baptists obviously know how to read and interpret their bibles. We now live in a very licentious period of time in our culture – one in which men and women cast about seeking affirmation of their own immoral and sinful choices.

  •' Jeff Tilley says:

    That’s a mighty big stone in your hand, there Andrew.

  •' andrew123456789 says:

    Not really, Jeff. I am observing and analyzing. Surely that is not the same as throwing a stone. Are we to ignore an abusive behavior and say nothing? The SBC has harmed many people. By applying the “throwing the first stone” teaching to that is akin to saying we should witness something and allow it to continue. I don’t think Jesus meant such a thing in that story. Your application is inapplicable.

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