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Texas unit of Baptists may cut ties with denomination

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DALLAS — The Southern Baptist Convention's largest state unit may sever ties with the denomination — a move that would dramatically drain membership and financial support.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas is openly discussing a break with the national body, which this month rewrote its official statement of faith to disallow female pastors and two years ago called for a wife to "submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband."

"The truth is that, for some time now, a true Baptist could not support some of the agencies in SBC life," the Rev. Clyde Glazener, president of the Texas convention and pastor at Gambrell Street Baptist Church in Fort Worth, told The Dallas Morning News.

"We're not interested in siphoning off a lot of funds from Texas to fund a Jerry Falwell-clone church."

One proposal under discussion for the Oct. 29-30 meeting of the Texas convention would cut off funds to the national denomination. Texas provides 14 percent of the denominational budget.

Another proposal would allow congregations outside the state to join the Texas convention, in effect creating a rival national denomination.

Baptist moderates oppose changes this month to the Baptist Faith and Message, including emphasis on stricter interpretations of the Bible.

The Southern Baptist Convention claims 15.8 million members and more than 40,000 churches. If the 2.7 million members of the Texas convention were to form a separate body they would rank eleventh in size among U.S. denominations.