The CBOQ and Deciding the Size of the Tent

I belong to a denomination called the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec (CBOQ). We recently had our 2020 Annual Assembly, this year online. It was one of the most contentious in a long time.

Note: None of this is necessarily the view of Queen Street Baptist Church, the congregation that I pastor.

Three motions were brought forward by member congregations. I won’t go into detail about the motions, other than to say that they were a response to how some congregations among us are responding to the LGBTQ community.

These congregations that made motions are on the conservative side of our denomination. We have other congregations that are fully affirming of LGBTQ. Basically, some wanted the CBOQ to take a more conservative stand and to enforce that on congregations that dissent.

Note: The CBOQ holds to a traditional definition of marriage and does not allowed credentialed pastors to perform same-sex weddings.

All three motions were defeated, although not by a huge margin. At least one of them was very close. The long-term ramifications are yet to be seen. It is likely that some congregations will leave the CBOQ.

I actually see this debate as being about more than just our views of LGBTQ, although that is important.


I see this as being about determining the size of the CBOQ tent. There are those that hold the conviction that our beliefs and practices need to become more uniform and that this should be enforced by a central authority.

What drew me to the CBOQ was the celebration of diversity. I had previously been a part of a denomination that strict definitions on all issues and there was not much room for disagreement.

In the CBOQ there are those who are against women in ministry and there are female pastors. There are cessationists and those who speak in tongues. There are young earth creationists and theistic evolutionists.

This also mean that there are those who believe that LGBTQ should not participate in membership or leadership and those who believe that LGBTQ should have full access to every area.

I understand that there are non-affirming people who believe that non-affirming is the only option and affirming people who believe that affirming is the only option.

The question was put to the CBOQ to determine how big our tent would be and how much diversity would be tolerated/celebrated.

What was revealed is that there are slightly more congregations that value local autonomy than enforced uniformity.

It is possible that we will lose congregations on both sides of the theological divide. That makes me sad.

I long for a group of Christians who can gather under a big tent with the central pole being Jesus as Lord. Can we hold to the historic creeds of the church and still disagree on other issues? I would hope so.

I love both my conservative and liberal, my non-affirming and affirming brothers and sisters. I will associate with both if they will let me.

I believe that the model of the church in the New Testament is unity with diversity and not enforced uniformity. And yet putting this into practice is so difficult.

My prayers are with our CBOQ leaders.


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