The battle of church-group endorsements in the District of Columbia mayoral campaign began heating up yesterday when a group of Methodist ministers announced its support for Sterling Tucker.

The Rev. Joseph E. Taylor, president of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Ministerial Alliance, announced support for the City Council Chairman at a news conference at the Bunton Institutional CME Church, 1350 Lawrence St. NE.

Taylor said Tucker would provide "responsible creative and daring new leadership."

Churches and their activist ministers are major sources of support for candidates in Washington's black community.

Yesterday's announcement was the second known endorsement of a candidate by a religious group in this year's campaign. In January a group of Baptist ministers, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy League for Universal Justice and Goodwill, endorsed John Ray for Mayor.

A larger Baptist group, the Baptist Ministers Conference of Washington has not taken an official stand, although many of its leaders are supporters of Mayor Walter E. Washington's expected bid for reelection.

Taylor, the Methodist alliance president, said his organization represents eight churches and may influence as many as 15,000 voters. He said the endorsement was supported by the church's resident bishop, Henry C. Bunton.

In his endorsement statement, Taylor said Tucker has shown as City Council chairman that he has "a willingness to develop innovative programs and policies that can enhance governmental response to the needs of the people." The lack of such policies leads many to be disillusioned and discouraged, Taylor asserted.

Council member Marion Barry Jr., another major candidate, won the endorsement last week of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city's major gay rights political organization.

Other announced candidates for mayor are Charles S. Cain and Richard Jackson.