Some churches in Central Pennsylvania are preparing for a day full of weddings Saturday following the legalization of same-sex marriage.
The Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, located in Swatara Township, will start weddings at 10 a.m. Rev. Eric Posa says four have been scheduled so far, but the church is allowing “walk-ins” as well.
“It was very thrilling for so many in our church,” said Posa of the court decision this week to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage. “Our church, our denomination has been on record for 30 years supporting same-sex marriage.”
Posa said some of the couples being married Saturday have been together for decades. One couple has been together 21 years while another has been together 37 years.
“I’ve done two (weddings) in a day once, and that was a record. So, I’m blowing that out of the water,” said Posa.
Posa said the church is open at no cost to couples marrying Saturday.
At the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster, staff members are preparing for even more weddings. So far, seven have been scheduled, with the first starting at 11 a.m.
“It means I need to get a good night’s sleep,” said Rev. Anne Mason. “They each have the sanctuary for an hour. So, I don’t want them to feel rushed. I want them to be here, in this sacred space.”
The church’s wedding coordinator, Linda Kinney, has worked to coordinate volunteers and a variety of other aspects of the weddings. She said flowers, photography services and cakes are all being donated.
“Last week at this time I didn’t even know I’d be doing weddings tomorrow. And, now we have seven. So, there’s a lot of volunteers who’ve signed up for this. They’ve been really great,” said Kinney.
Rev. Mason started planning the event a couple months ago, expecting same-sex marriage could be legalized at some point in Pennsylvania. As in Harrisburg, the services will be at no cost to couples on Saturday.
Since the judge issued his opinion Tuesday, Mason says she has received phone calls from others who don’t share her view.
“It’s a theological, it’s not a hate call. It’s probably Lancasterians that are concerned that we’re following the wrong path,” said Mason.
During Saturday’s ceremonies, there will be more than a dozen volunteers with the group Silent Witness standing outside to act as a buffer in case there are protests. Mason said Lancaster Police have been notified as well.
Mason said, “There might be ministers that might agree with the decision but aren’t allowed to marry people because of the rules of their denomination. But, the unitarian universalists have been in the forefront with being open and affirming.”