California minister married at 2013 General Synod hopes to officiate weddings in Cleveland

dave-marriagetent.JPGThe Rev. Dave Sigmund came prepared.

With the ruling from the Supreme Court due this month, he knew he might be able to catch lightning in a jar at a General Synod for a second time. So, a month ago, he applied for and received his Authority to Solemnize Marriages from the State of Ohio. He would be ready to marry gay couples at GS30 immediately — if the news was good.

On June 30, 2013, Sigmund exchanged wedding vows with Jay Greaves on the balcony of the Long Beach Convention Center at GS 29, one of the first gay marriages in California after the Supreme Court of the United States vacated California’s Prop. 8, which had blocked same-sex marriage in the state. Half his congregation from Seaside Community UCC in Torrance, Calif., was there to cheer the newlyweds.

“I knew I was coming to Synod,” Sigmund said, “and the chance to be part of the church’s prophetic witness and to make someone’s wedding as meaningful as ours was too much to miss.

“It looked like the stars were aligned again.”

They certainly were two years ago. The Supreme Court did its part, but the timing on a Friday afternoon was a problem. With courthouses closing for the weekend, Sigmund and Greaves needed a marriage license. As it turned out, a friend of a friend knew about a pastor with a stack of marriage licenses at the Great Officiants Wedding Chapel next to the convention center. By Saturday, they had the license, and General Synod and the Southern California media gathered for a very special wedding on Sunday.

2013synodwedding.jpgSigmund’s own journey through the country’s social transformation that today’s Supreme Court ruling represents was formed by advice from a friend. As a gay man in seminary, he had hit a rough patch with his own conservative Atlanta, Ga., family when the friend suggested that he just “show up — show up at family events, weddings, funerals, parties, holidays.”

He believes “showing up” and providing personal witness to his family led to “relationship and transformation in my life.”

His wedding at General Synod in 2013 put Sigmund and Greaves at the center of a media circus in Long Beach, which had some unexpected consequences. “That first Sunday after Synod, we had 11 first-time visitors in church. Some of them have taken on significant roles within the congregation.”

When the ruling was announced at 10 a.m., Sigmund packed two different ties, his stole and his document from the State of Ohio and headed out. He was ready.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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