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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

TOWN HALL: Religious Tolerance for Same-Sex Couples

KETTERING -- As ABC 22/FOX 45 prepares for its Town Hall on the Same-Sex Marriage debate on Thursday, June 26, we take a closer look at homosexuality and how accepting some churches are of same sex couples. ABC 22/FOX 45 Reporter Amber Watson visited Harmony Creek Church in Kettering, which has an open-door policy.

Many pastors take a strong stance against homosexuality because of several references in the Bible, including Leviticus 18:22. It says, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: It is abomination."

At Harmony Creek Church, Senior Pastor Mike Castle, who is gay, does not teach that scripture literally. "If anyone wants to quote that verse I hope they are willing to live by the book of Leviticus, too. I can't find anyone willing to do that. It's really absurd to say gays and lesbians have to live by this verse when I'm not willing to live by the rest of the verses in the same book."

Every Sunday, Castle teaches that God loves everyone equally. "At the heart of all the scriptural witness is a call to love and justice." said Castle. Forty percent of his congregation is gay or lesbian. He delivers a message that brings comfort to church members, including Jerry Mallicoat and his partner John Cummings.

"When I first walked into this church with my partner back when it was Cross Creek at the time, you just felt that love and acceptance of who you are and where you belong in the world. It was that feeling of comfort that brought me here and kept me coming."  said Cummings. The two have been coming to the church since 2007. A year before they started attending Harmony Creek, they were attending a church in Cincinnati. The minister their performed a commitment ceremony even though same-sex marriages are not legal in Ohio.

He was essentially defrocked by the Prespertyrian Church for performing same-sex ceremonies, same-sex marriages. He would call them marriages and not commitment ceremonies because in his mind if we are going to be open and welcome and equal treatment for everyone they are marriages," said  Mallicoat.

After a long journey of trying to find a faith community, John and Jerry say they are happy the Harmony Creek congregation accepts them for who they are. "We are starting to see the church begin to change and adapt to the changes that we are starting to see in our culture and in society and that's a positive thing," said Mallicoat. Mallicoat and Cummings plan to get married legally in New York in July.

Watch the Town Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday here. It will also air Saturday, June 28, at 5 a.m. on FOX 45.   

 
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