A lesbian couple chosen to be co-pastors at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington D.C.

Although many churches are adopting more tolerant beliefs, there has been no shortage of criticism for the lesbian couple taking the pulpit.


A historic Washington D.C. church has taken a gigantic step by appointing its first lesbian couple to partner-lead the congregation. The Calvary Baptist Church will now be led by Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen, two women who are bringing an entirely new image to the pulpit. The lesbian couple has extensive ministerial experience, and church officials say their values align closely with those of the congregation.

A church flying a rainbow flagMarching Forward

While many congregations across the country have gay pastors, Sarratt and Swearingen become one of the first married gay couples to share a spot on the pulpit.

Swearingen calls the job a “dream that has unfolded”, and says that she never imagined it being possible when growing up. The young pastor also sees the shift toward modernization being in line with the goals of church, despite the fact that progressive values tend to fly in the face of long-held ideas and traditional religious beliefs. She explains that “the work of the church has been and always will be to set the table of hospitality for all people.”

Conservative Branches Push Back

Although many denominations are trending toward more tolerant beliefs, there has been no shortage of criticism for the decision to put a lesbian couple on the pulpit.

Just weeks after the decision, protestors burst through the doors of Calvary Baptist Church carrying signs and chanting slogans. The group told church members they “were going to hell” for allowing gay pastors and that the building was now “the house of Satan.”

Strong disapproval was also voiced by members of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a socially conservative branch of the Baptist faith. Current SBC pastor Joseph Lyles said he was “surprised” and “concerned” to hear about the move. He finds it “difficult” to support same-sex relations “with a biblical basis”. Another pastor pointed to the hiring of Sarratt and Swearingen as an example of the progressive branch’s “impulse to try to modify Christianity”.

Calvary Baptist Church in Washington D.C.No Traditional Church

Calvary Baptist Church is a landmark in the heart of Washington D.C. From a first glance, it’s easy to understand why this place holds a special place in the hearts of locals – believers and non-believers alike. The beautiful red hue of its jagged, gothic architecture contrasts against the clear, balmy sky as it juts up from a subdued Washington D.C. street corner. The whole scene makes for a traditional picture of the nation’s capital.

However, the Calvary Baptist Church is anything but traditional.

It was first founded by abolitionists way back in 1862. In the 1980s, it broke unwritten laws by welcoming women into leadership roles. Then in 2012, it formally cut ties with the Southern Baptist Convention due to “major perspective differences” – namely its attitudes toward the LGBT community. In 2014, Calvary Baptist Church ordained the first transgender Baptist minister.

By naming a lesbian couple to lead the congregation, the historical church has further cemented its reputation as a haven of progressive attitudes within the sometimes-rocky religious landscape.

A Changing Landscape

Many people can remember a time when homosexuality was a serious taboo, not only in religious circles but in larger society as well. Now same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, and gay couples are standing at the same pulpits which refused to accept them just a few generations ago.

For many, this new cultural landscape represents a continued march toward tolerance and compassion for all. Others see it in a darker light: as a degradation of religious values and Christian morals.

Where do you stand? Does allowing gay leaders to preach at the pulpit go against the teachings of the Bible, as some would argue? Or is this simply the next logical step in progressive religious tradition?

 

62 comments

  1. Miranda Allison Young says:

    I think this is wonderful. I am a lesbian and I am very glad to know that there are churchs which support the LBGT community. I hope there will be many more churchs that do this.

    1. Robert L. Wichmann says:

      Absolutely, it doesn’t make any difference what your orientation is people are people regardless. If someone or someones are “called” to some “profession” it shouldn’t reflect negatively on their lives. If an atheist wants to be a minister of some congregation and the congregants agree then it should be so.

      1. Rev. Dr. John M Olsen III says:

        How can a gay couple preach the word of God when God’s word specifically denounces gay behavior? Leviticus 18:22

        Surely this would be looked upon as contradictory, causing great confusion in a congregation.

        Shall they excuse their behavior by saying “Do as I say, not as I do.”?
        I think not.

        We first must practice the Word of God before we can preach it.

        1. Pastor. Jason Solak says:

          I have to disagree with your statement. You’re quoting the Old Testament and not the finished workings of the cross which forgives all sins present,past and future. Also, it isn’t anyone’s right to judge but the LORDS. We are saved by faith and grace plus nothing. Ephesians chapter 2 verse eight. Our ascended Lord since the beginning of time knew that these same sex pastors were going to create this church. I fully support them and may God bless them.

          Being gay or same sex isn’t a sin. We need to have faith and love each other. Also, if it was a sin in afore time the finished working of the cross has made it non affect.

          1. Howie says:

            Very well said, Pastor Jason. God is love and His son always taught love and compassion. Realizing that and joining hands with others is the true way to live and find eternal salvation.

        2. Brother John says:

          I’ve checked a number of translations of Leviticus 18:22, Dr. John, and they’re all similar to this….”‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. Looks like these ladies are in the clear, unless you also believe 1 Corinthians 14:34 applies.
          “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” Ahhhhh, the wisdom of the Good Book.

          Speaking of biblical contradictions, you do realize that the bible is riddled with them, don’t you? Write down the answers to these simple questions, then check your answers against scripture…
          Although there are many to choose from, let’s focus on the namesake of Christianity…

          Who carried Jesus’ cross to his crucifiction?
          What were the last words of Jesus on the cross?
          Who were the first visitors to to Jesus’ tomb?
          Is Jesus the same as God?

          Here’s a link to the answers (feel free to search “bible contradictions” for more). No wonder there’s confusion amongst congregants. Which of the contradictory answers did you choose?

          http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions

  2. Jeri Favreau says:

    We all take the same breathes and lift our eyes up to the heavens. Aren’t our bodies just a vehicle for our spirit?

    1. michellebeaman says:

      beautiful

    2. Pastor Judy says:

      Yes…God breathed HIS breath in us to give us life. Let’s honor the life he gave us by living a life that honors his guidance and principles that the Bible gives us. Our earthly body is carnal and wants all things carnal. Once we say, “Lord, I’m a sinner and I repent and ask you to come into my life”, we become a new creature in Christ and old things are passed away. In Jesus’ name. Amen (so be it)

  3. Francisco Rosaly says:

    That’s totally wonderful‼️ I approve it.

  4. Rdv. Rob says:

    if you believe what the bible says it does say homosexuality is wrong and since i would not attend such a church in the first place hope they reap what they sow!

  5. Roy Patterson says:

    The teaching of the Christian Bible says Homosexuality is a sin. I don’t agree with this church letting Lesbians or Gays becoming ministers.

    1. Rev. Des says:

      No it says a man shall not lay with another man has he would a women, will we all know that is is an impossiblity!!!
      I am happy to know that your perfact (tho. I learn only God is perface) and we all know that the bible has more than 5000 record mistakes in it. I advoice to think like a Christian and not as a closed minded person. Only God should judge!!!!

      1. Rev. David says:

        Rev. Des I would think you know better than to judge but here you are and not even doing a good job at that. Learn to spell. The Bible shows the wrath of God on Soddam and Gamorrah , for their iniquities. Homosexuality was one of them. Like it says in the later days there will be false prophets ( which homosexuals male/female as ministers might be ). One must turn away from sinful things lest they die.

  6. Copeland Larry says:

    No man or woman has the right or authority from God to change his word those who God says will burn in hell! God says so in his word not mans.

    1. Reverend Kim says:

      God also has said that he will judge not you. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. God will judge you the same way that you judge everyone else. It’s not our place to judge. The person without sin may cast the first stone.

  7. ELLIS says:

    With a belief system based on fraud anything is possible. The Rectory is a place for anal sex, the Seminary is a circle of Monks masturbating into a bowl for the Priest to drink and it is obvious what the Lay Ministry is for. That is the thing with a God seperate for nature, a supernatural being seperate from reality. But of course we always have the Common Good with us , all pervasive in Nature so the perversions of AntiChrist Christianity are temporal.

    1. Rev. David says:

      Ellis I do not know what Seminary you were in or think you have knowledge of, but your statement shows your ignorance.

      1. Howie says:

        Yes it does!

      2. ELLIS says:

        Thank you David. All things are possible that are possible. If you meditate seeking truth you will find it is always self evident. Have you considered the the Bible is full of fraud and that Jesus is the Antichrist? Of course the truth cannot be suppressed and it is in the Bible too. Pay attention and see how all things work together.

    2. Pastor Kim says:

      Wow, how would you like to be judged the way you are judging? Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass pass against us.

  8. Gary England says:

    The Bible is the lords word ! We can’t pick or choose what suits are needs IT IS WHAT IT IS the lords word. Homosexuality is a sin.
    This is what i believe.I believe in the LORD and i trust in the LORD and his word .

  9. Paul R Walsh says:

    We don’t have the right to say who is and who isn’t fit to give out the word of GOD based on their sexual orientation I think that this is a great step forward.

  10. Copeland Larry says:

    According to Gods own writings he says “no sinners will enter the kingdom of Heaven” He says they are Sinners. Read Gods words and you come to the same conclusion as God!!

  11. Sam says:

    The bible was written an interpreted by men. People do choose in it to suit their needs and ignor others. Because sexuality is so intimate and petsonelle. People who seem to have the most difficulty, seem to be those who struggle with sex and intimacy. They use the bible as their excuse to hate. Even the bible has evolved, but people still get stuck on this.
    As we evelve and become more loving and excepting of ourselves and others, gods love only grows stronger.
    Those who say it is written in the bible are hypocrites.
    It’s so wonderful to see the lesbians at the pulpit.
    God loves everyone.

    1. Rob Devlin says:

      Very well said, Sam.

  12. Copeland Larry says:

    Just as you change words and sentences you don’t like in your own mind does not give you the right to change Gods. God says those that do will join Satan in Hell. That’s their reward for not believing Gods writings without changing them.

    1. Jon Mathews says:

      Larry, so judgmental, oh my, my. So, you are a proponent of those who believe that a man who divorces his wife for anything but adultery is committing sin if he marries again, knowing that even Jesus himself condemned divorce? Where is your judgmental position on this? Most Christian men believe that a wife should forgive her husband for such an offense, as stated in Scripture. I wonder if the Christian women feel the same?

      I’m sorry. Life is different now and when Jesus fulfilled the law, the law was changed forever. That’s why we eat pork, shellfish, wear mixed material clothing, and don’t stone adulterers (divorced and remarried persons) in the secular United States. The stiff-necked are on their way out as is mainstream Christianity because of archaic interpretations of Scripture. Remember Jesus manifests Himself to us in many different guises – the Holy Spirit, through Scripture, through sinners, through LGBT persons and even our pets. I highly doubt that Jesus would be as judgmental as you.

      1. Howie says:

        Great points Jon. So many people who claim to be “Christian” are so quick to condemn and judge. I don’t think they are headed where they think they are headed by contracting the words of Jesus they claim to love and follow.
        That is not to say all Christians are like that by any means as we see by this article.

      2. Copeland Larry says:

        Satan did what you want to do to Gods word , what did God do to him? He will do it to all who change his word to suit them!!!!

  13. Emerson says:

    THE BIBLE WAS BADLY TRANSLATED. FROM GREEK . IT MEANT MAN SHALL NOT LIE WITH *BOY* MEANING PAEDOPHILIA NOT HOMOSEXUALITY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !

    1. Rev. David says:

      Emerson it was written in a very patriarchal society. Which meant women had very little rights or say. That is not the only place it condemns it. Do not forget Soddam and Gamorrah being destroy for their sinful ways including homosexuality. You do not have to believe it, but at least look at all of it not just one little verse.

    2. Faith Pigeon says:

      Emerson: When we reading the Bible, we must take a look at. When it was written, the Culture in which it was written in. And frankly who wrote it. I agree with you, wholeheartedly. We need to do our very Best, at following the example. That Jesus Christ came here to show us.How to Love one another. Thank You for your Post.

  14. Patty Wilkes says:

    As a minister, I will be officiating at a lesbian marriage ceremony. I havew been asked to write the vows and provide the words for the ceremony. I need help.

    1. Judy says:

      Hi, Patty. You would be honoring God’s Words by declining to perform the ceremony. That’s like condoning sin and somehow adding a blessing to it. That “blessing” would not be from God and I think that in your heart of hearts you know that. Your blessing will be in declining. God bless you with the right decision.

    2. Rob Devlin says:

      Patty,

      People are people and true love is true love. If the commitment to marriage and all it entails is there and real – why should what is said be so different? It will still be for rich or poor, better or worse, in sickness and in health. But more importantly. If you truly have two people who are willing to stand before God, as publicly witnessed here on earth by their family and friends, to declare their love and commitment to be together until they part in death – I think that is a pretty darn good thing.

      Too many focus on the sex, not the people or the love. Good people are good people – and good exists in every walk of life.

      ….and so does Bad. Checking all the right boxes only means one thing: You know how to check a box :).

      Good luck. Just do it with love.

  15. Earl Farrell says:

    This isn’t a question of changing God’s word. It is a question of what does Jesus have to say about these things. This “burning in hell” stuff is like thinking that killing a goat will make things better. It’s not up to us to determine who God’s children may or may not be. That question has been answered by the New Testament.

  16. Rev. Dee Arianne Rockwood says:

    One of the many reasons I left the Cumberland Presbyterian Ministry and became part of the ULC is to have the freedom in the pulpit to promote social change and officiate such weddings-to care for our fringe citizens.

  17. Copeland Larry says:

    God created man/woman and this world is his. He made his rules not mans. We live by his rules not ours. You have been given the right to choose if you want to be his or Satans follower, Satan or God who’s words do you follow?

    1. Lin says:

      “GOD” did not write the bible. PERIOD.

      1. Rev John says:

        He didn’t even edit it!

    2. Rev. Des says:

      Yes, and it took 12 men to keep Jesus happy not a women!!!!! That is why they were kissing in the woods??????

      Also where did the women that Adam and Eve’s sons have as wifes come from (there was another land) (oh another mistake that is omited just one of the 5000 othe rmistakes in the Bible)?????

  18. Minister V says:

    So many people claiming that “homosexuality is a sin. Says so in the bible.”

    I find it funny how these people don’t have an issue with a Labradoodle-owning, permanent-press shirt-wearing, clean-shaven, tattooed man out at a restaurant eating bacon-wrapped scallops for dinner. But suddenly it’s an abomination if the person across the table from him is his husband?

    1. Howie says:

      Minister V, right on! And thanks for the little chuckle as well!

    2. Faith Pigeon says:

      Minister V : That was very well said!!!

  19. Lin says:

    There ARE NO teachings in the Bible about LGBT etc, relationships. Read it in the original Hebrew Aramaic interpretation. This church did an awesome thing!

    1. Faith Pigeon says:

      Lin : You are spot on there. There is nothing in the bible, about LGBT Loving heathy Comment Relationships.

      God Bless You.

  20. Luis Fernandez says:

    Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? – James 4:11-12

  21. Ps.Alex Bosch says:

    Understand this, we have no right to judge any person!, the command from God is to “Love your neighbour”, NOT “judge your neighbour”, however what people need to understand is that we need to Live by the Spirit of God, for if we do not live according to the Spirit of God we cannot stand against the evil powers of darkness!! Ephesians 6 (NIV) 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    Now, one of the biggest lies from these evil forces is to take that which God has created and determined to be before we were born, either male or female, of which you have undisputable physical proof when you look at your own body, whether you are a man or woman, satan has in his cunningness managed to convince people through their futile thinking and foolish hearts to believe that what God our Creator has made them, is a mistake and they are different!. This is where vs Romans 1v20 is very clear on this matter ;20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    When looking at the above, God warns mankind that nobody will have an excuse before God, no matter how much people agree or disagree with their views. In actual fact the views of society, laws, constitutions, regulations or any carnal view does under NO circumstances change what is written in God’s Word. God’s Word cannot change, does not change and is the ultimate authority and guidance for mankind, no matter whether we believe it or not, we will have no excuse when we stand before God!.

    Romans 1 New International Version (NIV)

    God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity

    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    Romans 2New International Version (NIV)

    God’s Righteous Judgment

    2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

    5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

    Galatians 5 New International Version (NIV)

    Life by the Spirit

    13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

    16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

    The Word of GOD warns us about the cunningness of satan and that he has come to kill, steal and destroy and has been a liar from the beginning, thus we must be aware of his schemes and trust God to lead us from temptation, for if we believe the lies we are lost and if we judge we are lost. We need to act in Love toward all and by living out the Word of God, show people the TRUTH found in Jesus Christ and the TRUTH will set them free!

  22. Melissa Quintanilla says:

    I’m very Happy💜😘😃for this happening LOVE FOR CHRIST LOVE..

  23. Chris Harrison says:

    I don’t approve nor disapprove. I believe God will judge us all when the time comes and at that time will the truth be known on several issues. As for leading a congregation, bringing people to Christ and teaching what is Gods word is a blessing to us all (provided we teach the truth!). It is not our power nor is it our suffering to judge others but only to pray we all follow the path God has set out for us. I love everybody, God bless you!

  24. Charlene Outt says:

    It is not our place to approve or disapprove. There are TWO Great Commandments. Love God with all your heart and strength and might and love your neighbor as yourself. Anyone who lives by these commandments and helps to bring others to the love and forgiveness of Christ is blessed to me and on the right track. Please note: We are all sinners, and only man measures some graver than others. I don’t believe that we can possibly understand God’s judgement, forgiveness or depth of His love. We need to compare ourselves only to Christ, not other human beings.

  25. Shantell Gambrill says:

    It is not for us to judge everything that we do so he would outside let them cast the first stone it’s not for me to judge only for God to judge when it’s time for them to answer for what they done God said love one another who am I to say what kind of love he chose for someone to give each other to just someone else is wrong we can only judge ourourself so I am saying as long as you go to God and ask for repenting when your time comes he will truly accept that because he died for all your son not just one

  26. Rev John says:

    As a Christian either you follow the bible (old and new) or not. If you do then. Read the old testament – Leviticus. Homosexuality is like so many other things punishable by death. So, either you follow the bible or not and if not what doctrine do you follow then? Ask yourself.

  27. Francis Whitford says:

    Christianity is based upon the life and teachings of Jesus. What did Jesus say about homosexuality? Nothing. He was more into positive support for everyone. He did not comndemn people for it. So, in an attempt to be a Christian, I guess I won’t either.

  28. Howie says:

    I love to see when faiths actually embrace change and desires to accept everyone. Congratulations to a beautiful couple!

    1. Faith Pigeon says:

      Thank You: Howie, I agree with you wholeheartedly. To me, being a Christian is trying to be Christ-like. That’s what all of us should be Striving for, as follows of Jesus.
      God Bless

      Chaplin: Faith Pigeon

  29. Copeland Larry says:

    Satan is doing a great job of getting people to do what he wants and change Gods words to suit his false teaching!!!

  30. Copeland Larry says:

    Satan wanted to change Gods word to be acceptable to people and God kicked him out of Heaven you think he want do it to you?

  31. Gary England says:

    Just Read your BIBLE!
    It’s that simple 🙏

  32. Rob Devlin says:

    Who here has not grown up and knowing the words – live by example. The words in the Bible were interpretations written down by Man. God did not write the Bible. Jesus Christ, however, did live here on earth and lived a life which others can follow as a true example. The Old Testament was written before Jesus was born. The New Testament was written after he died. The only true examples to follow are those that were made when he was alive. He did not cast aside Mary Magdellon, he did not walk away from Lazarus. What he did do was try to counsel thoae who tried to sit on judgement above others to stop doing so. His teachings were about love and acceptance. Those are true examples to love and love by.

    I could criticize all of you who recite the Bible verbatim and ask you to live the life of a True Christian – but that would be against the examples Jesus Christ taught us. I will simply say that we are a part of God’s Community and that love and acceptance are what makes that community real.

  33. ELLIS says:

    If Satan is the Lord of hell or the abode of the dead than believers of the blasphemy are following that because by taking up the cross and following the Antichrist master it will take them out of the world and the kingdom of God, those followers will not be seen or heard from anywhere in creation ever again.

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