Addressing his large, mostly black congregation on Sunday morning, the Rev. Wallace Charles Smith did not mince words about where he stood on President Barack Obama's newly announced support for same-sex marriage: The church is against it, he said, prompting shouts of "Amen!" from the pews.
And yet Smith hardly issued a full condemnation of the president.
"We may disagree with our president on this one issue," Smith said from the pulpit of the Shiloh Baptist Church here. "But we will keep him lifted up in prayer. ... Pray for President Barack Obama."
And Smith said there were much bigger challenges facing the black community -- "larger challenges that we have to struggle with" -- bringing his full congregation to its feet, with many more "amen"s.
Days after Obama announced his personal support for same-sex marriage, pastors across the country offered their Sunday-morning opinions on the development, with the words of black pastors -- a key base of support for Obama in 2008, that is also largely opposed to gay marriage -- carrying special weight in a presidential election year.
But black pastors were hardly monolithic in addressing Obama's remarks.
In Baltimore, Emmett Burns, a politically well-connected black minister who said he supported Obama in 2008, held an event at Rising Sun Baptist Church to publicly withdraw support from the president over Obama's same-sex marriage support.
"I love the president, but I cannot support what he has done," Burns said at the church.
In an interview with CNN, Burns predicted that Obama's support for legalized same-sex marriage would lead to his defeat in November.
The Rev. Calvin Butts, an influential black pastor in New York City, did not endorse Obama's views but denounced those who are ready to "watch others be discriminated against, marginalized, and literally hated in the name of God."
"Our God is love," he said.
And like Smith in Washington, plenty of black ministers talked about distinguishing between opposition to same-sex marriage and views about Obama.
"I don't see how you cannot talk about it," the Rev. Tim McDonald, based in Atlanta, said earlier this week. "I have to. You can say I'm opposed to it (same-sex marriage), but that doesn't mean I'm against the president."
Though African-Americans provided Obama with record support in 2008, they are also significantly more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than are whites. That may be because black Americans are more likely to frequently attend church than white Americans.
A Pew Research Center poll conducted in April found that 49% of African-Americans oppose legalized same-sex marriage, compared with 39% who support it. Among whites, by contrast, Pew found that 47% supported gay marriage, while 43% opposed it.
African-American pastors have been prominent in the movement to ban same-sex marriage. In North Carolina, black leaders helped lead the successful campaign for a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage and domestic partnerships.
In California, 70% of African-Americans supported Prop 8, the 2008 state gay marriage ban, even though 94% of black voters in California backed Obama.
McDonald, who founded a group called the African-American Ministers Leadership Council, says he opposes same-sex marriage, but that he is more concerned about issues like health care, education and jobs.
But he says more black pastors are talking about same-sex marriage than ever before. "Three years ago, there was not even a conversation about this issue," McDoland says. "There wasn't even an entertainment of a conversation about this."
In Atlanta, at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church -- where Martin Luther King Jr. got his start -- the Rev. Ralph Warnock addressed the president's remarks near the end of his sermon.
"The president is entitled to his opinion," Warnock said. "He is the president of the United States, not the pastor of the United States."
Warnock said that there is a place for gays in the church and that "we don't have to solve this today."
Black churchgoers on Sunday appeared split on same-sex marriage, though many of those opposed to it said they still supported Obama.
"It's a human rights issue, not a gay issue. All people that pay taxes should get ... the same privileges and rights," said Terence Johnson, a congregant at Salem Bible Church in Atlanta.
At Shiloh Baptist in Washington, Shauna King said she does not support same-sex marriage, but that she respects the president's decision on it.