October 9, 2008

East Bay Church Votes to Oppose Prop 8, Plans ‘Mass’ Blessing of Weddings Between Same-Sex Couples

BERKELEY, Calif., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Sunday, October 19, First Congregational Church of Berkeley, United Church of Christ, will celebrate the weddings of couples who have been married since June when California extended the right to marry to same-sex couples.

The congregation voted unanimously in September to oppose Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriages.

Several couples in the congregation have been married since June 16 when marriage licenses were made available and the church wanted to honor their commitment all at once in worship. The church has also extended an invitation to couples from the wider community who might like to have their marriages blessed by this faithful, progressive, welcoming faith community, regardless of their denomination or faith tradition.

Phil Porter, Minister of Art & Communication at the church and an openly gay man said: "Many lesbian and gay couples have been scorned by the faith communities they grew up in. We thought it could be powerful for some to have their weddings publicly blessed by a faith community." Couples who wish to come can call the church office at 510/848-3696 to give us their names and wedding dates, or can just show up on Sunday morning.

The blessing will be part of the morning church service which begins at 10 a.m. The East Bay Gay Men's Chorus will sing. Wedding cake will be served afterwards. Senior Minister Patricia de Jong said this about the right to marry, "Many folks have been living in covenanted relationships for decades, raising children together, buying homes and basically contributing to society in wonderful ways. Why shouldn't they receive the rights and affirmations that come with marriage?"

On Sunday, September 14, 2008, the church voted as a congregation to oppose Proposition 8, a voter initiative on the November ballot that would eliminate the right to marry for same-sex couples. The vote was unanimous and was greeted by a standing ovation. The church's denomination, the United Church of Christ, voted at its national meeting in 2005 to support marriage equality for all regardless of gender. (http://www.ucc.org/)

First Congregational Church of Berkeley

CONTACT: Phil Porter, Minister of Art & Communication, +1-510-848-3696,+1-510-465-2797, [email protected], or Senior Minister, Rev. Patricia de Jong,+1-510-848-3696, both of First Congregational Church of Berkeley

Web Site: http://www.ucc.org/