A group representing moderate Southern Baptists who split from the conservative leadership of their denomination has been granted membership in the Baptist World Alliance.
The alliance - an association of Baptist faiths around the globe - voted at a July 11 meeting in Brazil to approve the application of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, based in Atlanta, Ga., over the objections of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Southern Baptist leaders had argued that the alliance's bylaws require each member to be distinct and not part of another convention. The Southern Baptist Convention generally views the moderate U.S. Baptist group as dissidents within the denomination, the Baptist Press reported.
Anticipating the vote, the Southern Baptist Convention decided last month to cut $125,000 of its annual $425,000 payment to the Baptist World Alliance, which represents more than 200 organizations.
Daniel Vestal, coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, described the vote as "a validation" of his organization. "It was heartening and encouraging to be received as a member body," Vestal said.