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How 3 churches in York County plan on talking about U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage

Written by Dylan Segelbaum, The Evening Sun | Jun 29, 2015 3:13 PM
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Photo by AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The White House is lit up in rainbow colors in commemoration of the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage Friday, June 26, 2015, in Washington. Gay and lesbian couples in Washington and across the nation are celebrating Friday's ruling, which will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintain them.

In a 5-4 decision, court said there's a Constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry

One pastor expressed disappointment. Another said the focus should now be on eliminating discrimination toward gay and lesbian couples in Pennsylvania. And a third conveyed concern about what effect the ruling could have on his church. 

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees there is a right to same-sex marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority decision that "no institution is more profound than marriage," adding that the Constitution grants gay and lesbian couples equal dignity under the law.

Here's how three churches in York County plan to talk about the ruling on Sunday:

City Church York

The Rev. Suler Acosta of City Church York, which is on West King Street near South Newberry Street and has a Sunday attendance between 60 and 70 people, said he was planning to focus on praying for the situation as well as for the U.S. Supreme Court. Acosta said he respectfully disagrees with the decision. 

When he was in Philadelphia, Acosta said he put on a forum during which members of the LGBT community and churches learned to get past presumptions each had about one another. Through that, he said, they had a sincere dialogue and learned to respectfully disagree.

"We wrestle with the issue" but not the people, he said. "Because the people we love. There's a big difference."

St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Dallastown

"I think my plan is to acknowledge it," the Rev. Christopher Rodkey said. "But I think I also want to qualify that this is just an important step, and that a lot more needs to be done regarding discrimination -- especially here in Pennsylvania -- and that the conversation should not stop here."

For example, he recently met with someone who lost his job because he got married, Rodkey said. Right now, gay and lesbian couples can also be denied housing in Pennsylvania, he said.

In March, the church, on West Main Street near North School Place, voted to become open and affirming. That means St. Paul's essentially has a "general welcome sign," he said.

On Sunday, Rodkey said the sermon topic will be on Mark 10 -- Jesus' teachings on divorce -- which was already planned before the decision.

Dover Assembly of God:

In Dover, the Rev. Jeff Bender of Dover Assembly of God, on Carlisle Road near Harmony Grove Road, said he plans to briefly comment on the ruling this Sunday. During the next two weeks, Bender said, he plans to preach about the topic.

Bender wondered whether the church's tax-exempt status could eventually be affected by the ruling and what would happen if a gay couple insisted on marrying there.

He compared that scenario to a bakery owned by someone with strong religious beliefs being asked to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. That was brought up during the controversy over Indiana's Religious Restoration Act several months ago.

"We disagree with this decision, but since the decision was made, we have to prepare for what the ramifications of that will be," Bender said. 

Contact Dylan Segelbaum at 771-2102.


This article comes to us through a partnership between The Evening Sun and WITF.

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