Lesbian Couple Pastoring at Baptist Church
January 18, 2017
Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen were presented to the congregation during worship services on a Sunday and are set to begin their new jobs on Feb. 26.
According to Religion News Service, the 155-year-old church severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012: It found itself at odds with the group on several issues, including the SBC’s stance against homosexuality. After hiring two lesbians to serve as co-pastors, the church’s position couldn’t be more clear.
A spokeswoman for the congregation is quoted in the RNS article saying that she didn’t know whether a gay couple leading a church was a first for Baptists.
“We look for the best people in the world, and that’s who they were,” said Carol Blythe. “We’re very excited.”
Sarratt and Swearingen come to Calvary from Greenville, South Carolina, where Sarratt has been serving as associate chaplain for behavioral health in the Greenville Health System and Swearingen as associate chaplain at Furman University, according to a news release from the church. The women met in the First Baptist Church of Greenville and were both ordained there after it adopted and implemented a nondiscrimination policy in 2015.
After the Supreme Court legalized marriage for gay couples and the court denied South Carolina’s attempt at a stay, Sarratt told the Greenville News that the couple knew many who “chose sexual identity over a life of faith,” but that there is no need to sacrifice either.
“We have found it so easy to fall in love with Calvary and its longstanding commitment to be a voice of justice and compassion for those who perpetually find the wholeness of their humanity disregarded and maligned,” the couple said to the congregation Sunday, according to the church.
Calvary Baptist still affiliates with American Baptist Churches USA, the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the District of Columbia Baptist Convention.
Original article by Religion News Service / TRUNEWS summary.
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