By Kathy L. Gilbert*
PHILADELPHIA (UMNS) — Inside the walls of a 150-year-old United Methodist church something new happened Nov. 9 when two gay men were surrounded by more than 40 faith leaders who blessed their marriage and recited in unison, “Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder.”
Richard Taylor (left, center) and William Gatewood sing a hymn with clergy and faith leaders after their wedding at Arch Street United Methodist Church. At left rear is the Rev. Robin Hynicka, senior pastor. At right is the Rev. Herbert Snyder, who served Arch Street before his retirement.
Richard Kevin Taylor and William Robert Gatewood celebrated their 25-year relationship with a service of Christian marriage inside stately Arch Street United Methodist Church, and people cheered.
A choir of more than 30 voices and a 2,322-pipe organ from 1870 swelled the marble edifice with sounds of joy. Several times during the ceremony, the wedding guests stopped the proceedings with extended applause and later danced in the aisles as the couple processed out with hands raised while the organ played “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love.”
The Rev. Robin M. Hynicka, senior pastor of Arch Street, estimated 36 United Methodist clergy and nine clergy from other faith traditions were standing together at the front of the church to recite the Declaration of Marriage, Lord’s Prayer and Blessing of Marriage. An additional 17 United Methodist clergy and eight clergy from other faiths had their names added to the marriage certificate by proxy. The total count could increase, Hynicka said.
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* Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for the young adult content team at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.