The AWAB Team is the welcoming and affirming group here at Riverside, and the name comes from our affiliation with the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB). The AWAB Team is involved with volunteering for the Association, outreach to our church and the LGBT community, and social gatherings.
Riverside Baptist Church is inclusive. We draw the circle of redemption as large as we can. We do not believe we are a white church, a black church, a male church, a female church, a heterosexual church or a homosexual church. We want to be the church of Jesus Christ. We believe in the power of the Gospel to erase barriers and make of us one people. To that vision we are abidingly committed!
To learn more about the inclusive nature of our church, you may wish to read Pastor Bledsoe’s October 14, 2007 sermon against homophobia, “These Scars, God’s Grace,” located on the Sermons page on our site.
A Statement of Affirmation and Disaffiliation
The quote above is taken from the formal statement of disaffiliation of Riverside from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1992, voted unanimously with one abstention. The affiliation with the SBC was a formality, a product of the church’s initial founding as Fifth Baptist Church and as a partner in the DC Baptist Convention which at the time was dually aligned SBC and American Baptist Churches, USA. Pastor Bledsoe is ordained in the ABC. It was at this time that we joined the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB) and declared our inclusivity of Gay and Lesbian persons.
DC CLERGY UNITED FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY
Declaration of Religious Support for Marriage Equality
On June 2, 2010, Pastor Bledsoe stood with nearly one hundred other clergy at Covenant Baptist Church to support marriage equality in the District. Below is the statement which he co-signed.
We are District of Columbia clergy and religious leaders of many faiths, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. We represent religious institutions in every ward in the District. We have worked together over many years for peace and justice and now join our voices again to speak a faithful word for freedom and equality.
We declare that our faith calls us to affirm marriage equality for loving same-sex couples.
Our religious traditions and scriptures teach us that wherever love is present, God is also present. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is our human capacity to love one another. The ability of two people to enter into relationships and form families of love and care is one expression of this gift. It is holy and good. We therefore affirm the right of loving same-gender couples to enter into such relationships on an equal basis with loving heterosexual couples.
We recognize that there are principled differences on this issue within the religious community. We affirm that the state should not require any religious group to officiate at, or bless, same-gender marriages. However, the state also should not favor the convictions of one religious group over another by denying individuals their fundamental civil right to marry whom they love.
Recognizing that there is heartfelt disagreement on this issue, we call on all people of the District of Columbia to engage in a respectful and loving dialogue on marriage equality. As religious leaders, we commit ourselves to such a dialogue and encourage our colleagues on all sides of this issue to do the same.
God is love and love is for everyone. In this spirit we raise our voices in the struggle for the right and freedom to marry.
The Alliance of Baptists’ Statement on Same-Sex Marriage, April 17, 2004
Affirming that our federal and state constitutions exist to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority and in the context of the current debate over same-sex marriage, we of the Alliance of Baptists decry the politicization of same-sex marriage in the current presidential contest and other races for public office. We specifically reject the proposed amendments to the constitution of the United States and state constitutions that would enshrine discrimination against sexual minorities and define marriage in such a way as to deny same-sex couples a legal framework in which to provide for one another and those entrusted to their care.
As Christians and as Baptists, we particularly lament the denigration of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers in this debate by those who claim to speak for God. We affirm that the Alliance of Baptists supports the rights of all citizens to full marriage equality, and we affirm anew that the Alliance will “create places of refuge and renewal for those who are ignored by the church.”