Highlands Church in Clark County Opens its Doors to LGBTQ Community
Springfield's Highlands United Church of Christ is the first church in Clark County under the UCC umbrella to open its doors to the gay and lesbian community. Highlands also plans to honor marriage equality.
Gary Percesepe has been pastor at Highlands since 2006. He says his church wants to stand for human rights and affirm LGBTQ people.
"There are many churches that tolerate people's presence. 'We'll tolerate you, it's okay if you come here you know you will be tolerated.' If you are an LGBTQ person you don't want to be tolerated you want your sexually to be recognized as one of God's great gifts and you want to be affirmed. And what we're trying to do in the UCC is to just create a space where everyone is welcome no matter who you are or where you are on your journey," Percesepe said.
Kathy Harbaugh has been a member of the church for many years. She is happy that Highlands voted to open its doors, but felt it was good that both sides of the issue were heard.
"It was really a very introspective process that we went through and it wasn't a rubber stamp.We didn't receive 100 percent of the vote and that's how the United Church of Christ rolls," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh says that despite the difference of opinions, Highlands' congregation has grown since the decision was made.
This week the Supreme Court will decide the fate of the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, the law that denies same-sex couples the same federal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples.