Welcoming and Affirming Baptist timeline
- At the biennial meeting in Pittsburgh, a short-lived group, "Professional Church Leaders Concerned" is formed by Howard Moody, David Bartlett, Edwina Hunter and others to raise gay and lesbian concerns within the American Baptist Churches/USA and in solidarity with American Baptists Concerned (ABConcerned).
- A meeting is held at the Charleston Biennial, moderated by Michael Easterling, pastor of Madison Ave. Baptist Church, NY, with the purpose of establishing a network of ABC/USA churches that are open to and affirming of lesbian, gay and bisexual. More than 50 persons are in attendance. Because it already had a funding base and a method of information distribution, ABConcerned was authorized to organize this network utilizing the principle of association and to begin soliciting memberships.
- The delegates to the ABC/USA Biennial meeting approve both an anti-gay Statement of Concern and one asking for a study on human sexuality.
- The steering committee of ABConcerned develops membership procedures for an association of churches (and individuals) as a public category of membership in ABConcerned.
- University Baptist Church, Minneapolis MN, calls Nadean Bishop as the first open lesbian to be called to an ABC church.
- Pullen Memorial Baptist Church ABC/SBC, Raleigh NC, votes to bless same-sex unions. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church ABC/SBC, Chapel Hill, NC, grants a pre-ordination license to John Blevins, who is openly gay.
- ABConcerned membership approves the association structure and membership categories, and proposes and approves the name "The Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists." Membership application materials are sent to churches.
- The General Board of ABC/USA narrowly defeats the anti-gay resolution proposed by the West Virginia Convention. 9/92 Nine churches and several individuals are voted into membership in the Association. The first listing of W&A Congregations is published in the fall 1992 issue of the Voice of the Turtle.
- The General Board of ABC/USA passes an anti-gay resolution through a never-before-used referendum process using mail ballot without discussion. The resolution states: "We affirm that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."
- The Steering Committee of ABConcerned appoints Brenda Moulton as the first Association Coordinator. By-laws are drafted for the Association that would establish the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists and remove Association memberships as a category of membership in ABConcerned.
- Representatives from several Welcoming & Affirming Congregations join the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
- The General Board of the ABC/USA votes in favor of a "Resolution Calling for Dialogue on Issues of Human Sexuality."
- The first meeting of the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists is held at the ABC/USA biennial meeting in San Jose' California. An interim council is appointed to further refine the by-laws and conduct Association business until the Syracuse Biennial in 1995. Twenty churches, three groups and many individuals are charter members of the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists.
- The Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists is represented in Cleveland, Ohio, at the first national meeting of leaders of denominational gay/lesbian caucuses and affirming groups, held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the National Council of Churches of Christ.
- The interim council of AWAB meets with the steering committee of ABConcerned to clarify the purposes of the two organizations and to finalize details of the organizational and financial separation begun in June 1993.
- Mark Crosby, an openly gay pastoral counselor, is denied ecclesiastical endorsement by the Committee on chaplaincy and Pastoral Counselors, ABC/USA. Dr. Crosby appeals this decision. 5/94 W&A Congregations are contacted and challenged to retract their affirming stance toward homosexuals. W&A Churches within the ABC of the West are threatened with disfellowshipping.
- Educational Ministries withdraws a pastor's invitation to serve on staff of VENTURE based solely on presumed sexual orientation. The General Board resolution is cited as the reason for this action.
- A Process is begun in the Columbus Baptist Association to disfellowship the First Baptist Church of Granville, Ohio, because it is Welcoming & Affirming.
- The Ordination Standards Committee of the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest revokes the ordination standing of Susan Vanderburgh, a lesbian pastoral counselor. The ordaining church later votes to rescind her ordination and her ABC/USA endorsement as a pastoral counselor is withdrawn.
- The Ordination Commission of the American Baptist Churches of the West votes not to affirm the recommendation of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church (W&A) to ordain Randle (Rick) Mixon, who is openly gay. This was Dr. Mixon's third attempt over a 20-year period to be ordained to the Christian Ministry within the ABC/USA.
- Mark Crosby's endorsement status is "frozen" by Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins, Executive Director of National Ministries, until the General Board of the ABC/USA clarifies its position. Dialogue forums seeking common ground on the issue of homosexuality are recommended until 12/97 when the Resolution on Homosexuality comes up for review.
- Columbus Baptist Association passes a resolution on Homosexuality and condemns FBC Granville for its "Welcoming & Affirming" policy. Emmanuel Baptist in Albany NY is threatened with disfellowshipping because it is W&A.
- The first regional "Common Ground Conference" is held for ABC pastors in Rhode Island. Two of the participants are openly gay pastors of ABCORI churches.
- Granville Baptist Church becomes the first W&A congregation to be dismissed (often referred to as being "disfellowshipped") when it is dismissed from the Columbus Baptist Association.
- First Baptist Church of Berkeley, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland, New Community of Faith in San Jose, and San Leandro Community Church are disfellowshipped from the American Baptist Churches of the West. The rational for the dismissal was the membership of the churches in AWAB. Not having legal ground for the disfellowshipping, the ABCW changed its Common Criteria for church association to prevent churches from the region from being a member of AWAB. The churches appealed change in Common Criteria to the General Board since such a change puts the ABCW criteria in conflict with that of the ABC/USA.
- The four appeal of four California churches disfellowshipped by the American Baptist Churches of the West is denied by the General Board of the ABC, resulting in dismissal from the denomination. The action taken shortly before the June Biennial convention, brought AWAB, ABConcerned, the Coalition for Baptist Principles and many other American Baptists together to protest the un-Baptist action against local churches. This was the first time local churches had been dismissed from the denomination when they were in good standing.
- Seven ABC Regions (regional denominational bodies) seek adjudication with the General Board to seek a reversal or other means for the dismissed churches to remain in the ABC/USA.
- The General Board amends the timeline for the disfellowshipping of the four California churches, also providing that they may remain members of the ABC/USA, if they find a home in one of the other 33 ABC Regions. Two years is permitted for the churches to find another, non-geographic region.
- An attempt to change the bylaws in the American Baptist Churches of the Northwest to expel churches that are members of AWAB failed by eight votes at the Region's biennial meeting. It was the second attempt in three years to make change to force Seattle First Baptist Church and University Baptist Church in Seattle, out of the Region.
- All of the disfellowshipped California churches and First Baptist Church of Granville, Ohio, have found a home in other ABC Regions. First Baptist Church of Berkeley - ABC of Wisconsin, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland - ABC of Metropolitan New York, New Community of Faith in San Jose - Philadelphia Baptist Association, San Leandro Community Church and First Baptist Church of Granville, OH - Rochester/Genesee New York Region
- AWAB & American Baptist Concerned governing bodies meet in Austin, TX, and decide to begin a process of reuniting the two organizations under the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists name.
- AWAB and American Baptists Concerned completed a merger in 2003. Prior to that time, these two organizations had operated separately, but had close ties to one another. ABConcerned had been in existence since 1972 and had been formed as a means of supporting and advocating for individual GLBT people associated with the American Baptist Churches/USA. In response to denominational actions taken against GLBT people and churches that were allied with GLBT people, AWAB was born out of ABConcerned as a separate organization in the early 1990's. AWAB's main focus was to provide a place for welcoming and affirming ABC/USA churches to network and stand together publicly in support of GLBT inclusion in the life of the denomination. For ten years, these distinct organizations worked apart from one another in their own realms of ministry. In late 2002, realizing that the two groups often competed with one another for the same pool of resources and volunteer leadership while working toward very similar goals, the Co-Chairs of the ABConcerned Steering Committee proposed a merger of the two groups. After several months of discussion, the merger was completed at AWAB's biennial business meeting in 2003. AWAB's mission changed to include a focus on individual members while also maintaining its original emphasis on churches and congregational support. Three members of the ABConcerned Steering Committee were added to the AWAB Council to ensure that the interests of both organizations were well represented. Two of those ABConcerned members, the former Co-Chairs who had originally proposed the merger, remain on the AWAB Council today.
- The General Board accepts into membership a new region, born from a division of the ABC of the Northwest. The Evergreen Baptist Association embraces Baptist freedom and principals, including local church autonomy. The ABC of the Northwest had also sought to exclude AWAB churches from membership.
- ABConcerned and AWAB complete the process of reuniting the two organizations.
- AWAB is present and active at the American Baptist Churches, USA Biennial meeting in Richmond, VA.
- National Coordinator, Rev. Brenda J. Moulton, who lead AWAB from its inception, with passion and compassion resigned to continue her ministries elsewhere.
- Daniel Pryfogle is hired as AWAB Interim Director.
- AWAB Council participates in the Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists in Dayton, OH. The AWAB Council makes a decision to expand its mission of inclusion for LGBT people beyond the American Baptist family.
- AWAB is present at the Alliance of Baptists Convocation in Greenville, SC.
- AWAB is asked to participate with the GLAD Alliance of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church Coalition on LGBT Concerns in a joint gathering in June 2006.
- Rev. Kenneth Pennings is hired as AWAB Executive Director.
- AWAB is present at the ABC/USA Biennial meeting in Denver, CO.
- AWAB holds an LGBT retreat at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
- Rev. Pennings begins touring the nation on a "12 stop tour" holding regional gatherings of AWAB folks.
- AWAB meets at the Alliance of Baptists Convocation in Birmingham, AL. The focus of the Alliance gathering is recognizing that racism exists historically and that there is a desire to work to overcome it.
- AWAB commits to being the "National Voice for LGBT Baptists". In making this decision, the AWAB membership empowered AWAB to become of more prophetic voice on behalf of those among us who are often still marginalized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- As part of a process of looking at AWAB's structure and governance the AWAB Council decides to restructure staff roles and responsibilities to better server the organization and members.
- Rev. Pennings transitions to the important new role of Director of Community Outreach. The DCO is primarily responsible for working with member congregation, those in the process of becoming welcoming and affirming and ecumenical partners.
- The AWAB Council hires an executive advisor to the Council to help guide administrative and governance issues until a new Executive Director is selected.
- Rev. Pennings resigned as Director of Community Outreach to follow other callings. Ken served AWAB for four and a half years as Executive Director and DCO.
- Chris Boisvert, long time Council member, begins as acting Director of Community and Outreach.
- AWAB Chair, Rev. Robin Lunn, begins traveling around the country to visit with AWAB member congregations.
- AWAB has a presence at the Alliance of Baptists Convocation in Monterey, CA.
- In January of 2011 Rev. Lunn was transitioned from Board Chair to Executive Director. She had served on the Board from 2007 and served as Chair from 2009 through 2010.
- AWAB has a presence at the Alliance of Baptists Convocation in Louisville, KY.
- AWAB Executive Director participates in the historic meeting in Phoenix, AZ with the President of the Southern Baptist Convention at their annual meeting. A petition with over 10,000 signatures was delivered asking for an apology to the LGBTQ community for the harm that is done to them because of the teachings of the SBC.
- AWAB has a table in the Exhibitors Hall at the ABC-USA Biennial in San Juan Puerto Rico.
- AWAB holds their membership meeting at the Baptist Peace fellowship of North America's Summer Conference and host the "Prom For ALL!"
- AWAB Executive Director, Robin Lunn, participates in the 40th anniversary of the Atlantic Baptist Fellowship in Halifax, NS.
- AWAB Executive Director, Robin Lunn, participates in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's conference called "A [Baptist] Dialogue on Sexuality and Covenant."
- AWAB has a table at the Creating Change conference in Baltimore, MD.
- AWAB has a presence at the Alliance of Baptist Convocation in Austin, TX.
- AWAB Staff, Robin Lunn and Jodi Robinson traveled 1500 miles on the Living Jubilee Revival Tour in the summer of 2013. This historic road trip took them through 15 states with visits to 17 churches - both member and non-member - and helped
- AWAB celebrated its 20th Anniversary and honored the 40th Anniversary of the W&A movement within the Baptist community in the USA. First Baptist Church in America, Providence, RI hosted our celebration in October of 2013.
- AWAB Executive Director, Robin Lunn, makes a historic 2 week trip to the South and visits with churches and church leaders starting in Birmingham, AL and ending in ending in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX.
- In January of 0f 2015 AWAB received its 100th member congregation.