Southold Universalist Church opens its doors to gay congregants

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | The Reverend Jim Macomber of Southold Universalist Church, which declares itself a 'welcoming congregation.'

In time for gay pride month in June, First Universalist Church of Southold has declared itself a “welcoming congregation” to all members of sexual minority groups.

The Rev. Dr. James Macomber said there is a program within the Unitarian Universalist movement that encourages other congregations to do the same.

“This has been years in the making,” Rev. Macomber said. “I’ve been in a number of other congregations over the past 12 years or so and most of them are welcoming congregations. It’s something that’s fairly common within our movement and I’m happy that Southold has followed suit.”

He performed a gay marriage at the church over the winter and said his predecessors have performed a handful of gay marriages and union ceremonies over the past few years.

He said it’s important to be a welcoming congregation because it sends a message to those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community that those who join the congregation can feel at home.

“In my opinion, no true follower of the teachings of Christ would have any issue with a committed loving couple being a productive part of society, perhaps lovingly raising children, maybe belonging to a welcoming religious community,” Peggy Richards, secretary of the church’s board of trustees, said in the congregation’s June newsletter.

Ms. Richards’ statement counterbalances the attitudes of some other congregations that view homosexuality as a sin or an illness to be cured.

“I have been thinking and thinking about the dichotomy of Christians calling homosexuality an abomination,” Ms. Richards added. “I can’t visualize Christ ever discriminating against a human being who was born a certain way.”

Rev. Macomber said individuals who join in their worship will never be made to feel uncomfortable about their orientation.

“LGBTQ community members can expect to be welcomed into our church services and our membership without worrying about their identity in terms of discriminatory practices,” he said. “People’s identities are not something we seek to change in any way. We want to welcome people based on their personal vision of what their identity is.”

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