Gay couple hired as co-pastors by Baptist church in Washington

A progressive Baptist church in Washington has hired a gay couple to be its co-pastors starting next month and has announced the decision to the congregation on Sunday.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Difference engine)Calvary Baptist Church. 16 October 2016.

In a worship service on Jan. 8, the Calvary Baptist Church presented lesbian couple Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen to the congregation as its new leaders. They will start functioning as church pastors on Feb. 26, Religion News Service details.

Based on a news release from Calvary, Sarratt has been working as Greenville Health System's associate chaplain for behavioral health. Swearingen, on the other hand, has been serving as an associate chaplain at Furman University.

Sarratt and Swearingen met at the First Baptist Church of Greenville, which implemented a policy against discrimination in 2015. The two women were later ordained in the same church.

"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 gay couple reportedly told the Calvary congregation on Sunday.

Calvary used to be part of the Southern Baptist Convention until it broke off from the latter in 2012. The church has reportedly clashed with SBC on several issues including homosexuality.

The decision to hire a gay couple as co-pastors has sparked concern among Baptist leaders in Washington D.C. An SBC seminary president has called on the District of Columbia Baptist Convention to disassociate with Calvary, the Baptist Press reports.

Fort Foote Baptist Church pastor Joseph Lyles said he was concerned over a fellow DCBC church's decision to hire openly homosexual individuals as co-pastors. For him, it is difficult to affirm gay marriage "with a biblical basis."

Despite the concerns among the Baptist leaders, DCBC executive director Robert Cochran confirmed to BP that it has no plans to exclude the congregation. He also said he has not brought up the issue of homosexuality with the leaders of Calvary Baptist Church.