My brother, Rev. Dr. Steve Ayers, pastor of McGill Baptist in Concord, North Carolina, is a hero of mine. He’s a hero for many reasons, but no reason more than his actions related to LGBT equality many years before the gay rights movement took off.
When a gay couple asked to be baptized at McGill Baptist my brother did not think twice. As Steve told reporters, “When people ask to be baptized, we don’t ask them about their sexual orientation.”
Negative reactions to the baptism of the two gay men were immediate and harsh. Seventeen families withdrew from McGill Baptist. Keep in mind, the church had just built a new building and losing that number of people and that amount of income was a testament to the church’s willingness to do the right thing at high costs. The North Carolina State Baptist Convention and the local Baptist Association also kicked the church out. A group named Save America protested at the boundary of the church’s property for over a year. In one instance, protesters disrupted worship calling the church “a den of iniquity”. A person who did not respond to the police requests to leave had to be tasered. Can you imagine being the pastor of a church that was protested every Sunday for over a year?
My brother is a hero, as are all clergy who work for peace and justice, particularly those who, like my brother, provide the largest income for their family. My brother’s wife, Jan, worked as a librarian for a public school. We all know how much public school personnel are valued/paid. When your family’s main income is on the line it takes a lot of courage to follow the way of Jesus.
I hope you are lucky enough to have brothers (siblings) like I have.