This article appears in Faithfully Magazine No. 1 (Spring 2017).
On Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, pastor Danny Cortez delivered a sermon entitled “Why I Changed My Mind on Homosexuality.” Before the year was over, his congregation, New Heart Community Church, had lost about half of its members and been dropped by the Southern Baptist Convention for choosing to become a Third Way congregation. As a Third Way church, New Heart holds that its members can enjoy fellowship while agreeing to disagree on whether the Bible condemns homosexuality. Three years later, the California pastor says his church is better off, as it is a body that now understands more intimately the gospel’s liberating power. But does he have any regrets? Are there things he wishes he could change about his confrontation with the SBC and disaffected New Heart Community Church members?
It’s going on three years now since your church was dismissed from the Southern Baptist Convention. How have things developed with the faith community you’re leading? How is your relationship with folks who decided to leave?
Our faith community has gone well. I think we’ve stabilized from the split. We went through a healing process and we’re now… I think what it did, was it actually helped us to see other areas that we were being oppressive with. When you open your eyes to one area of discrimination it helps to open your eyes to a lot of other things. So as a church, we’re not just focused on LGBTQ discussions, but also with racial issues, with women’s oppression, the ban on Muslims now, and just a lot of other things. So there definitely has been a greater awareness of justice issues.