Interfaith Thanksgiving Service relocates over gay marriage

Published: Oct. 21, 2013 at 10:36 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:36 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Steav Bates-Congdon used to work for St. Gabriel Catholic Church as the music director. He got fired after posting pictures of his wedding to another man on facebook.

David Hains, Communications Director for the Diocese of Charlotte, said Bates-Congdon broke with church teachings on gay marriage.

Bates-Congdon moved on and found another job with an Episcopal church in Fort Mill, SC, but his path crossed again with the Diocese this year.

Bates-Congdon also helps Mecklenburg Ministries plan its annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. This year, it was supposed to be held at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Ballantyne.

Bates-Congdon said he knew his presence could be an issue, so he offered to back out. Leaders with Mecklenburg Ministries said they still wanted his help, even if that meant relocating the service.

Hains said St. Matthew could not allow a married gay man to help lead the service, especially someone who had been fired for going against church teachings.

He said the church needed to be clear. "We know that our society is rapidly evolving around this same-sex issue," said Hains, but he said the Catholic Church is not going to change. "The Catholic Church is never going to accept gay marriage. It certainly does accept gay people," he said.

"I'm grateful Mecklenburg Ministries took a stand. I'm sorry they needed to," said Bates-Congdon.

Covenant Presbyterian in Dilworth stepped in to host the service a few weeks ago. More than a thousand people are expected to attend. This year will feature a Native American blessing and be streamed live on the web.

Reverend Bob Henderson leads Covenant Presbyterian and said he happy to open their doors. "We're really glad to serve the community in this way," he said.

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