Iowa City Baptist Church to Allow Same-Sex Weddings
First Baptist Church is first in state to join national association
An Iowa City Baptist church has become the first in the state to join a national association that advocates for the inclusion of LGBT people, and the church likely is the first of its kind in Iowa to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The nearly 50 members of First Baptist Church, which for the past decade has labeled itself as an "open and inclusive" community, recently voted to join the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists -- the first American Baptist Church in the state to do so -- as well as open the church to same-sex marriages.
The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists is made up of churches and organizations that work toward the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons within the Baptist community. First Baptist joins a list of nearly 50 "welcoming and affirming" churches nationally that are members of the organization, according to AWAB's website.
"For us, it's to honor our belief, and to put that belief out there, that to follow Christ means to be absolutely inclusive of everyone and not have any sort of hierarchy of holiness or worthiness, which sometimes we tend to do when we're religious," First Baptist Pastor Dorothy Whiston said. "So to make this statement publicly was important for the church."
The decision to host same-sex weddings and join the AWAB -- which Whiston said has no official status within the national American Baptist Church organization and isn't considered an affiliated group -- was nearly unanimous among the congregation.
Congregation members Chuck and Sue Dayton were among the supporters, with Chuck noting that First Baptist is following the lead of Baptist churches in other like-minded university towns that have joined AWAB, including Madison, Wis., and Minneapolis. UCN