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After what was described by pastors and deacons of First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia as an “exhausting journey,” members of the congregation can now participate in same-sex marriage.

Founded in 1826, one of the longest-running congregations in the city has decided to go against the conservative Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and extend their policies to include gay marriage.

The SBC has strict guidelines when it comes to same-sex relationships in the church. Members are prohibited from practicing or celebrating any form of gay marriage.

On August 27, a “secret ballot” that consisted of 230 members voted at the Macon church and more than 70 percent voted to accept same-sex marriage.

However, as Pastor Scott Dickison points out, the road to get to where they are was not an easy one.

“We had talked about this subject in hushed tones for so long that it was difficult to make the discussion formal,” the pastor told the Washington Post. “We reminded ourselves why we listen to Scripture in the first place: not to be a battleground, but to bring us together.”

Despite members leaving the church preceding the congregation’s actions, the pastor stands by their decision and thinks the vote shines light on who they are as a community.

“We’ve learned about each other and who we are as a congregation; what binds us together, as well as the differences among us,” the pastor wrote in a blog post. “Of course, all of this came to a head on Sunday with our vote. It has been a remarkable journey, and one that has left us with some tenderness. But I’m proud of where we’ve come together.”