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Men and women of cloth and rainbow unite in Orlando

Men and women of cloth and rainbow unite in Orlando
Muslim leaders gather with organizers from Minnesota's leading lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender groups Monday, June 13, 2016, to voice anguish over the shootings in Florida and urge the public to respect both communities. (Pioneer Press: Frederick Melo)

Orlando-area clergy, politicians, and leaders of the LGBT community came together Wednesday afternoon at the Orange County Administration Building to preach scripture, love and unity as the city prepares for its 49 Pulse funerals.

In what some called a nationally unprecedented showing, dozens of Central Florida clergy representing faiths including the Roman Catholic Church, mainline protestant churches, evangelical churches, Hispanic evangelical churches, African American churches, synagogues and mosques all heeded Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs‘ call to pledge support for each other and for Orlando’s gay community.

“I can’t think of the best word, but historic,” said Victoria Kirby York of the National LGBTQ Task Force, who came to Orlando from Washington D.C. to help. “Because of the churches present: there are a number of denominations present that haven’t historically been supportive of the LGBTQ community.”

Among those in attendance were Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islam Society of Central Florida, Rabbi Yosef Konikov of Chabad Of South Orlando, the Rev.Jorge Torres of St. James Catholic Cathedral, the Rev. Terry Pierce of Joy Metropolitan Church and the Rev. David Uth of First Baptist Church, among others.

“We are churches united all across Orlando and Central Florida, standing here today deciding love wins,” Uth said. “Visitors are welcome here in Orlando but we do not welcome any message of hate.”

The Rev. Tom McCloskey of the First United Methodist Church of Orlando, suggested the clergy gathered Wednesday reunite at as many funerals as possible to show the united front of Orlando.

The idea was widely well received, and Jacobs said her office would try to coordinate, though their presence will have to be cleared with families.   floridapolitics.com