ALEXANDRIA — Several members of the Alexandria First United Methodist Church came Sunday morning to peacefully demonstrate their support for former choir director Adam Fraley, who is gay.
Fraley had been choir director at the church for close to six years, when a new minister, David Mantor, expressed he was not comfortable with Fraley continuing in that position as an openly gay man.
David Steele and his wife, Nancy, both active church members were in attendance to show their support for Fraley.
“We are here because we love Adam. We think this is a right that people have, Christian or not, to live the kind of life they want to as long as they are good citizens and he absolutely is a good citizen,” said David Steele.
Many who attended wore shirts with the United Methodist Church logo on the front “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” The group of Fraley’s supporters gathered on either side of the outside entryway to the church as he directed and they sang hymns. The first was “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
Once they finished singing, the group peacefully went up the steps to enter the church for the morning service. At first they were not allowed to come in. After a lengthy discussion, the minister came out and demanded that everyone agree to not say a word to disrupt the service. Members of the group all agreed and they were allowed inside.
Candice Rominger, attending with her husband Brian and daughters Larissa and Mariyah, said, “We came out with fellow church members (supporting Fraley) to let people know that the church should be open to everyone. God loves everybody and everybody should be welcome and feel comfortable worshiping together.”
“I was born and raised in this church,” said Danielle Steele. “The reason I believe in equality of people is because of the way I was raised in this church. When I was 16 I held my first music director position here. I was the director of music for two years and that’s how I got my start in my music career. I am now a professor at Earlham College."
“I’m here to get my church back,” said Leslie Richardson. “It’s just so sad. All these people are my friends. What really upsets me, there were three ladies out here with us over the age of 90 that are here every week that the minister wouldn’t let in because they were standing with us. He finally let us in after we promised not to say anything to disrupt the service.”
“Our demonstration,” said Adam Fraley, “was to show that we are still a united group of people that still want to worship in our church. The amount of support that was shown here today by friends and family and people I don’t even know, has been overwhelming and given me hope.”