E. Dewey Smith, pastor of The House of Hope megachurch in Atlanta, recently apologized to a woman his church had turned away from a requested baby dedication ceremony once it was discovered she was married to another woman.
In a video titled “Church Hurt” and published to The House of Hope’s YouTube page on July 15, 2018, Pastor Smith is shown standing at the front of the congregation with one hand on the shoulder of the woman and his other hand holding a microphone as he addresses the congregation.
The description on the video states: “Church Hurt is very real and can happen to anyone including the pastor. We as a family, messed up in October of 2014, but today by the grace of God, we got it right. It is our prayer that these words from Dr. Smith may give you comfort and guidance to navigate thru the pain back to a loving, unbreakable relationship with God.#StopChurchHurt”
Over a period of six minutes, Smith addressed the congregation while holding onto the woman, who remained mostly silent with her head down as he spoke. Smith revealed that he regretted how the woman and her son were treated by the church, particularly after arrangements had already been made for her child’s baby dedication.
Smith stated that although he was not directly involved in the decision to turn the woman and her family away, he was not sure what he would have done.
The Georgia pastor apologized to the woman for not “doing her right as a church.”
He added, “We should have prayed… We should have thrown our arms around her and we should have prayed. We should have prayed for that baby.”
Smith also pleaded: “Don’t let the ignorance of people turn you against an all-loving God.”
The woman had apparently left the church when her family was refused the baby dedication ceremony four years ago.
Smith told her that she was just as welcome to the church as anyone else.
“The same grace that has saved and is saving me, is the same grace that has saved and is saving you,” he said.
Smith also requested a do-over and said he would be honored to be her son’s pastor.
The House of Hope Atlanta was founded more than 142 years ago as The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church and today ministers to five generations under Smith’s leadership as senior pastor and teacher, according to its website. The House of Hope counts more than 12,000 worshippers among its membership.