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Episcopal minister halts all weddings

Protest is aimed at same-sex ban

AMHERST -- An Episcopal minister will stop performing all wedding ceremonies to protest the denomination's prohibition of same-sex unions.

"We are called to join the fast that our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ have had to observe all their lives," said the Rev. Robert Hirschfeld, rector of Grace Episcopal Church.

Several members of the congregation say they support Hirschfeld's move, which he announced in his Sunday sermon. Others said they were concerned the move might add to the polarization of an issue that has divided Episcopals.

Erica Winter of Northampton said working for social justice often involves giving up something.

"I'm so proud to be a part of this," Nina Scott, a congregant from Amherst, said. "It's a step that needs to be taken."

Two priest associates at Grace Church, the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas and the Rev. Burton Whiteside, also said they would not perform marriages.

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