DC Baptists agree to differ on gay marriage

With all eyes on two Supreme Court hearings on gay marriage, Baptists in the nation’s capital pledged to work together despite differences.

By Robert Dilday

Leaders of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention said in a statement March 27 that while the convention’s “diverse body of believers” holds strong opinions on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate, its churches remain focused on shared values and have chosen to “lovingly and respectfully disagree” on contentious issues.

“DCBC member churches, leaders and staff have determined for themselves what their conviction is regarding same-sex marriage and we respect their right to do so,” the statement said. “Therefore, we gather on the values and principles for which we do agree, most especially the lordship of Jesus Christ, and lovingly and respectfully disagree on issues like same-sex marriage.”

The statement was released at the end of two days of Supreme Court hearings on gay marriage, which drew a crowd of demonstrators -- both for and against -- to the court building east of the Capitol. Some of the supporters were members of churches affiliated with the DCBC.

leslie copeland tune“DCBC leaders felt it was important to release a statement in the current environment,” Leslie Copeland-Tune, the convention’s director of communications and resource development, said in an e-mail. Its content “reflects the historical position of the DCBC on issues as divisive as this one,” she added.

“We believe that God has called us together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ to be in Christian community,” the statement says. “While we are autonomous as local churches, we are interdependent and believe in the power of working together as a witness to Christ. Jesus affirms the diversity of our gifts and calls us to be in unity. We are many members but one body -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

Ricky Creech, the DCBC’s executive director/minister, said the convention’s statement reflects a commitment to respect the diversity of churches.

“Statements made by Baptists, regardless of the point of view, only represent the local body and are not representative of the whole,” he said in an e-mail. “I believe that our faith community is yearning for someone to come forth without polarizing people around issues. The DCBC is seeking to be that -- an entity focused upon the whole and not just parts of the Kingdom body.”