Calvary Baptist Church, a progressive Baptist landmark in the heart of downtown Washington, has named a gay couple as co-pastors.
Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen were presented to the congregation during worship services Sunday (Jan. 8) and are set to begin their new jobs on Feb. 26.
A spokeswoman for the congregation said 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.”
The 155-year-old church severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012: It found itself at loggerheads with the group on several issues, including the SBC’s stance against homosexuality. Calvary Baptist still affiliates with American Baptist Churches USA, the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the District of Columbia Baptist Convention.
American Baptist Churches USA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sarratt and Swearingen come to Calvary from Greenville, S.C., 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.
Sarratt, who holds an MBA from the University of Virginia, left the corporate world after she felt called to ministry and obtained her master’s in theological studies from Emory University.
Swearingen, who is fluent in English and Spanish, earned a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School, where she won an award for her preaching.
Source: RNS/Lauren Markoe
Inset Photo: Sandra Auman via Calvary Baptist Church
Feature Photo: RNS/Chris Rossi