ALPHARETTA, Georgia (ABP) — A Southern Baptist-endorsed Air Force chaplain portrayed recently in national media as watching approvingly the blessing of a same-sex civil union in the chapel he oversees informed officials at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) North American Mission Board (NAMB) on July 19 that he is leaving the SBC.
Earlier Baptist Press carried a story quoting chaplain Col. Timothy Wagoner saying he didn’t mean for his attendance at what is believed to be the first gay civil union or wedding ever to take place at an American military installation to give the impression that he personally condones same-sex ‘marriage’, but he was there to show support for the serviceman who took part in the ceremony with his civilian partner and the Lutheran chaplain that Wagoner supervises who officiated.
After a July 4 Associated Press story about the ceremony, NAMB chaplaincy officials contacted Wagoner to “talk to him” about the article, NAMB spokesman Mike Ebert said July 17. “He wanted to make it clear that he stands squarely on the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 view of this issue, and he was happy to have that point clarified since the article might have given readers a different impression,” explained Ebert, vice president for communications.
A July 13 Baptist Press story quoted Douglas Carver, retired U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains and a two-star general who took over as executive director of NAMB’s chaplaincy work after retiring from the military this year, as saying he had received assurance that Wagoner was “either misinterpreted or quoted out of context” by the Associated Press.
On July 20, however, Baptist Press quoted NAMB President Kevin Ezell saying that he expects the 1,450 Southern Baptist chaplains that serve in the military to support Southern Baptist doctrines “without reservation” and if a chaplain cannot do so, “then it is best to part ways.”
Unless Wagoner finds another body to endorse him, he will have to resign from the military. Attempts to contact him July 23 were unsuccessful.