Gay marriage debate takes its toll on St. Paul church

10:13 PM, Jun 10, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - When Reverend Oliver White made a decision to support gay marriage seven years ago, he had no idea the affect it would have.

"People said they couldn't support my decision," said Pastor White, who leads Grace Community United Church of Christ in St. Paul. "Over half of them left."

Pastor White recalls preaching to more pews than people in recent weeks. His decision affected more than attendance, but also hit the church's finances, too. Pastor White says if he doesn't raise $175,000 by the end of June, the church may have to close its doors.

"The church is more than a building, but we still don't want to lose our building," says White who admits they agreed to a mortgage they shouldn't have, another factor in the amount of the debt.

The Pastor's principle was tested when a man called him last month willing to pay the entire debt if he would renounce his stance on gay marriage.

"I told him I'm sorry I can't do that," he recalls. "I believe in this too strongly."

His conviction has spread and support for White and his church is being sent in from all over the country.

"Connecticut, New York, California," says White as he reads the letters he's received, many of which include a donation.

As of Sunday, the church had raised close to $50,000.

"Plus in the last two or three weeks there are new faces here," he says. "Once this campaign is over this church is going to be something, a diverse community. "

Pastor White says he hopes his story changes people's opinion as the November marriage amendment vote looms.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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