A married couple from Greenville has been hired to co-pastor a more than 150-year-old Baptist church in downtown Washington, D.C.
Calvary Baptist Church announced that Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen will serve as the church’s new senior ministers.
They are scheduled to begin their service at Calvary Baptist on Feb. 26.
Sarratt is the former associate chaplain for behavioral health in the Greenville Health System and Swearingen is the associate chaplain at Furman University.
Sarratt has also been filling the role of part-time associate minister at Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, an announcement from Calvary said.
Both Sarratt and Swearingen were ordained at their home church, First Baptist Church of Greenville, after it adopted and implemented a non-discrimination policy in 2015, the announcement said.
Sarratt and Swearingen accepted Calvary’s call to serve as co-pastors, telling church members: “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.”
Calvary Baptist Church has always been known for its progressive outlook, beginning with the small group of abolitionists who founded it in 1862. The congregation is committed to being an urban church where social justice matters deeply and everyone is welcome in Christian fellowship, the church announcement 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," said Carol Blythe, chair of Calvary’s Ministerial Selection Committee.
“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," Blythe said.
Sarratt and Swearingen bring complementary skills and backgrounds to Calvary that match the church’s needs in exciting ways, the church said.
Sarratt spent two years working as a global service corps missionary through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She then earned an MBA at the University of Virginia and became a businesswoman in the corporate world. She eventually felt the call to ministry and went on to earn a Master of Theological Studies degree at Emory University, the church said.
As a chaplain, Sarratt’s service includes providing grief support for patients and facilitating a weekly outpatient spirituality group. In her role at Greenville Unitarian, she preaches, coordinates pastoral care, and presides over rites of passage for the 400-member congregation.
Swearingen grew up the child of a minister in a bilingual household which connected her to both English and Spanish-speaking congregations during her formative years.
She earned a Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, which honored her with the Jameson Jones Excellence in Preaching Award. Swearingen has a particular passion for the pulpit, and she has spent the last year working with a cohort of clergy in South Carolina to develop deeper conversational space for religious leaders striving to dismantle white supremacy and institutional racism.