A Jacksonville church is among the hundreds included in a new list of Illinois religious clergy who are ready to perform same-sex marriages.
The rights group Equality Illinois said Thursday it has posted a pamphlet on its website listing Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders ready to officiate same-sex weddings. Among them- the United Church of Christ at 520 College Avenue in Jacksonville.
Pastor Lynn Bohlmann says her church supports marriage equality.
“Happy to be able to be of service to couples that traditionally aren’t able to get wedded in a church or who believe that they can’t,” she says.
“I think a lot of people who have been waiting for this moment are really excited by that, and I’m glad that we can be a part of what I think is a real movement toward equality. I think that’s part of what our country stands for, and I think that’s a part of what our gospel stands for,” Bohlmann continues.
This is nothing new for the 181-year-old church, as Bohlmann notes the congregation has always been involved with issues involving freedom and equality.
“It was an abolitionist church; it was active in the Underground Railroad, and so we’re just kind of continuing that,” Bohlmann says. “Our church here became what our denomination calls open and affirming; it basically means that we welcome all people- specifically meant at first to be LGBT- but basically means we welcome all people, and we welcome you in every facet of our ministry.”
And while United Church of Christ isn’t non-denominational, Bohlmann says you don’t have to be a member to get married.
“I think most faith communities will also go ahead and marry people who are outside of the faith community after meeting with the ministers and all that,” she says.
“We would be glad to hear from people who are in the area, even. If somebody wants to come from central Illinois here because it’s closer to them then going up to Chicago, that’d be great. We’d be happy to meet with them and happy to see how we can be a blessing in their life.”
Bohlmann says there are already two same-sex couples scheduled to get married at the church in the fall.
A state law legalizing same-sex marriage takes effect June 1st. However, some counties are already issuing marriage licenses after a federal judge ruled Illinois original ban was unconstitutional. Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggener says at this point, it appears Morgan County will wait until June 1st.
The full list of churches offering the service is here.