Stephen Moss: The conversation continues

Alumnus Stephen Moss ‘10 is a member of the LGBTQ conversation committee. I COURTESY OF STEPHEN MOSS

 

The LGBTQ conversation committee is a recent endeavour intended to address the growing campus concern regarding human sexuality. The committee is a response by President Andrew Westmoreland after deciding with university trustees not to approve LGBTQ advocacy group Samford Together.

“We are meeting to discuss what this looks like for Samford, which is rooted in Christian tradition but is also a university and not a church,” said Stephen Moss, one of two alumni representatives on the committee.

The committee wants to find out a way for Samford to be a welcoming and safe space, according to Moss.

“We’re not here to settle theological questions that have been debated for years about human sexuality and gender,” Moss said.

The committee chose to make portions of their plans confidential until they have everything prepared to share with the school.

“Part of it are still in process and we’re not able to talk about it to protect the integrity of the process,” said Moss.

There are 12 members on the committee, which includes four faculty members, two alumni, two staff members and four students. The group recently met at Westmoreland’s house for dinner and conversation.

“I am determined that Samford needs to be a place where those of us who have more traditional views of marriage and human sexuality can have biblical convictions of all that,” said Westmoreland. “Samford needs to be a place where we learn how to hold on to those biblical convictions and simultaneously love those who don’t carry that same view.”

The group, created by Westmoreland, comes in the wake of the Samford Together issue earlier this year when the Alabama Baptist State Convention announced the decision to withhold funding if the group was approved by trustees.

“If the trustees decide not to deny permanent recognition and revoke its provisional status we will not recommend any allocation for Samford University in the 2018 budget,” said ABSC President John Thweatt, in an email to Westmoreland.

Although Samford elected not to receive any further funding from ABSC, the group was not officially recognized by the university trustees due to their intentions and purpose being “widely misunderstood,” according to a university statement.

Westmoreland claims that the basis for eliminating funding from the ABSC is largely a misunderstanding. He recognizes that the LGBTQ issue previously caused tension among the state convention but claims that their relationship is still strong.

“The money was going to be a flashpoint of division among Alabama Baptists — it was commonly understood that Samford had endorsed an LGBTQ advocacy group and that became the narrative,” said Westmoreland. “And I certainly understand how people can be confused.”

According to Westmoreland, the ABSC has had many financial challenges in the past few years and was unable to meet their budget. He said that since Samford is in a better financial position than most ministries of ABSC, it would be more helpful for Samford to forgo the $3.6 million and help ABSC support their other ministries.

Daniel Dodson, News Writer

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