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Church To Show Its Colors In Capital Pride Parade

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Nathan Groff affixes a cross to the form of the church that will sit atop the church's float.
Armando Trull
Nathan Groff affixes a cross to the form of the church that will sit atop the church's float.

Nathan Groff is trying to bolt a three foot wooden cross on top of a plywood structure the size of a small storage shed.

This is not your typical gay pride float, says another builder Laurie Kawa.

"The form of the church is a very traditional white church and it'll have a little cross on the top it has red doors that are wide open with the message that all are welcome," she says.

Edna Nilsen, standing at the rear of the float, is working on a rainbow colored heart made of the prints of many hands dipped in paint.

"That's been a thing that has been very difficult for people of the LGBT community," she says. "The church has not been there and has not stepped up and really welcomed them. We're making a big statement.”

"Here's the church here's the steeple open the doors and see all the people. It really is a fundamental message of the United Church of Christ that all people are welcome," says Groff. He headed the team that organized the float, and says it's the first time a church has sponsored a float in the Capital Pride Parade.

Terri Doxsee says she almost turned away from religion before finding an open and affirming church in the UCC.

"My relationship with my wife is valued the same as heterosexual couples, and it's the community I'm hoping will exist outside the church," she says.

The Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest gay rights groups in the country, sponsored a rally with several hundred religious leaders on Capitol Hill last month. The group unveiled a study that found a majority of Christians now support gay marriage and more laws protecting LGBT persons in the workplace, at home, and at school. Bishop Yvette Flunder was among the speakers.

“Change is in the air and whole denominations have opened their hearts and opened their doors," she said.

In Annandale, workers were putting the finishing touches on the little rainbow church. Kawa says it represents a line from scripture: 'Love casts out fear.'

"The topic of gay and lesbian participation in church life creates fear for some people so we wanted to get the message out that love trumps fear," she says.

The Capital Pride parade begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Dupont Circle.

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