A church which has refused to condemn gay unions has been expelled from a statewide affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention.

According to the Baptist Press, the California Southern Baptist Convention voted last week to withdraw fellowship from New Heart Community Church in La Miranda, California.

The move comes in response to Pastor Danny Cortez's declaration that he no longer believes that being gay is a sin. Cortez cited his son's coming out in announcing his change of heart.

Instead of removing Cortez, the congregation at New Heart voted on May 18 to become a “Third Way” church, which is neutral on the issue.

(Related: Southern Baptist pastor reverses opposition to homosexuality; congregation votes to keep him.)

In a statement, Cortez reiterated his congregation's desire to remain within the SBC denomination.

“We understand that some of our leaders' actions have been perceived as moving away from the Baptist Faith and Message, and we affirm that the California Southern Baptist Convention leadership has had to make a difficult decision,” Cortez said. “At the foundation of our discernment has been to take seriously Jesus' high priestly prayer regarding the unity of the church. Our congregation, then, desires to hold our disagreements in tension as we seek fellowship with one another, and as we have sought fellowship with our denomination. We want to make it clear that while our hope has been to stay within the SBC denomination, we nonetheless hold them dearly as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We ask that God bless them, and bless us, as we all attempt to navigate this very difficult period of church history. May God help us all.”

National leaders are considering similar action. According to the Baptist Press, a decision could be made next week when the SBC Executive Committee meets in Nashville, Tennessee.