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WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 22, 2012, 08:42 PM

Moorhead church displays a controversial showcase

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) -- There's a display at a Moorhead church right now that is going after a controversial rule in some congregations. Churches who are losing leaders because they can't serve due to their sexual orientation. It's a traveling show called "Shower of Stoles".

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) -- There's a display at a Moorhead church right now that is going after a controversial rule in some congregations. Churches who are losing leaders because they can't serve due to their sexual orientation. It's a traveling show called "Shower of Stoles".

"It makes me feel great to come in and see this ..."

Eric Espinoza moved into the Moorhead community with his husband three years ago. They were happy to find this church knowing they would be accepted and able to worship like everyone else.

Eric: "We wanted a place where were welcome to be ourselves, and not just welcomed but invited to take part in the life of the church and that is what we found here."

Espinoza is the Chair of the Christian Education board. He and other members made it possible for these stoles to be displayed in their house of worship.

Eric: "For people to come and see that gay people are also people of faith, people who want to serve their communities, serve their churches, and sometimes they are not allowed to do that."

Each stole represents someone who is no longer able to serve their church because of sexual orientation or gender identity. There is also a story on some of them from the donors experience.

Eric: "There are over 1000 stoles in the collection, and our church has 75 to display."

This traveling show isn't only a reminder of what the church stands for, but it is also helping the church celebrate a very important anniversary.

Mark Pettis/Pastor: "On April 24th of 2005, this congregation voted to be an open an affirming congregation."

Pastor Mark Pettis says with the 7 year anniversary, it is important for the church to remember it's values.

Mark: "It is an important statement about who we are as a church, supporting, welcoming members into our congregation, who regardless of gender identity."

Espinoza and Pettis agree.. regardless of anyone's sexual orientation or gender identity..this show represents the celebration of accepting people for who they are, and allowing all people to feel Gods love.

Eric: "We are a place that is welcoming, opening, and wants to celebrate the lives of people."

There will be an open house for the showcase, on Tuesday the 24th from 6 to 9 at First Congregational United Church of Christ on 8th street in Moorhead.

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