Lesbian Couple To Lead Historic US Baptist Church

Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen will take up the co-pastoring roles at the end of February.Facebook | Maria Swearingen

A lesbian couple will next month take on joint senior minister roles at a 155-year-old Baptist church in Washington.

Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen – who are married – were ordained in 2015 and were announced as the new co-pastors of Calvary Baptist Church on Sunday.

They will take up the role on February 26, the church said.

"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," said Sarratt and Swearingden.

In a post on Facebook, Swearingen added that the pair were "overjoyed" to announced their new roles.

"It's a dream that's been in the works for quite a while, and we are thrilled to take part in the wild and wondrous work of community together," she said.

"What gratitude we have for so many who have continued to walk with us and bless our journey together. Thanks be to God for all that lies ahead..."

Calvary says it has always had a "progressive outlook, beginning with the small group of abolitionists who founded it in 1862".

"Calvary has benefitted from the leadership of women at all levels of church life," a statement added.

Chair of the church's ministerial selection committee, Carol Blythe, said: "As we met and talked with Sally and Maria about their vision for pastoral leadership at Calvary, we were struck by their deep faith and commitment to being part of a gospel community.

"We were impressed by how their gifts, talents, and experience matched our ministry priorities—and we are thrilled about their upcoming pastorate and the versatility the co-pastor model will provide our congregation."

According to RNS, Calvary ended its ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012 over disagreements regarding issues including same-sex marriage.

It remains affiliated with a number of other Baptist umbrella organisations, including American Baptist Churches USA and the Alliance of Baptists.