On Sunday, the congregation at the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon voted to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies at their church.

Our Jobie Peeples spoke on the phone with Pastor Scott Dickinson Monday to discuss the decision.

He addressed some of the external criticism that immediately followed the vote.

“I think unfortunately, and although for probably for some good reason, Baptists have taken on a characterization that isn’t as accurate to our congregation. So that’s something that we’re constantly kind of grappling with ourselves,” said Dickinson. “But our church has a long history of openness, and of asking hard questions, and not being shy about that, while also really priding ourselves in really being a place that is home to people of a variety of viewpoints, theological, political, social… and so this conversation, it was hard because as our vote showed, we weren’t all of one mind in this. But the goal, you know, was to have an honest conversation and see where we land and try to do so with as much grace and compassion for all voices involved. I’m really grateful for the congregation in doing that.”

He discussed the importance of understanding the decision was about more than just marriage, it was about creating an environment of inclusion.

“This whole conversation was about much more than marriage -- the language of the full motion was that we support the full inclusion of all people into the life of our church, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. And that’s what I don’t want to get lost in all of this, is that this isn’t… we don’t want to just be a wedding chapel. That’s not what this is really about. We want to be a place where people know that they’re loved and accepted and included. And being a place that would perform same-sex marriages is just one part of that.”

Lastly he acknowledged the decision wasn’t unanimous, and he thanked the full congregation for how it handled making the decision.

“Knowing that there are people in our congregation who met this decision with gratitude and elation, and there are others who are struggling with it, we have a commitment to be a church for and with them every bit, as well as we would anybody else, and that’s what we’re really focusing on right now.”