Calvary Baptist Church, in the centre of Washington, has named a gay couple as co-pastors, Religion News Service LLC reported. A spokeswoman for the congregation said she didn’t know whether a gay couple was a first for Baptists.
Carol Blythe, chair of Calvary’s Ministerial Selection Committee, told The Washington Times that Calvary was impressed with the couple’s vision for the church during the hiring process.
Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen have already been presented to the congregation are set to begin their new jobs at the end of February this year.
The 155-year-old church severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012 because of the SBC’s stance against homosexuality.
Sarratt and Swearingen come to Calvary from Greenville, South Carolina. The women met in the First Baptist Church of Greenville, and were both ordained there after it adopted and implemented a pro-gay policy in 2015. American Baptist Churches USA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The gay couple called Calvary a “voice of justice and compassion for those who perpetually find the wholeness of their humanity disregarded and maligned”.
In 2014, after the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Calvary Baptist was founded by abolitionists who broke away from another Baptist church where congregants had refused to pray for Union soldiers during the Civil War.
On October 8, 2016, Calvary Baptist Church sponsored the Heart 4 Muslims Conference to reach an estimated one million Muslims in the metropolitan New York area.
It started off with a discussion under the heading: “Helping your church love Muslims”. Since 9/11 Calvary has been a loud voice for embracing Muslims.