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Gays in church

SPOKANE — The Bethany Presbyterian Church is hosting "A Shower of Stoles" beginning Sunday, to honor and celebrate gay and lesbian people of faith. The three-day event will include a display of 180 stoles belonging to gay and lesbian clergy. Stoles are religious garments -- they look like long, slender scarves -- and each will be accompanied by a short story about the person to whom it belongs.

"Hopefully, when gays and lesbians take a look at this event, they'll see that there is a place that welcomes them," says event coordinator Kerri Rodkey. "Our church, for a long time, has been very open and welcome to gay and lesbian people." Bethany is sponsoring the event with 10 other local churches and organizations.

"These churches are making very bold steps," says Marj Johnston, worship coordinator for the Emmanuel Metropolitan Community Church. "Bethany is very brave to say, 'We know you're there, and we welcome you.' "

Some people may think that being Christian and gay is mutually exclusive, but that's not the case.

"Everybody in the congregation has been very supportive," says Rodkey. "The gospel says we have to be open and accepting to all people."

— Rhiannon Fabian

Stoles can be viewed at Bethany Presbyterian Church, on Third Avenue and Freya, beginning on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 12:30 pm, and the display is open until Tuesday, Feb. 27. Call: 534-0066.

Capital punishment

SPOKANE — As the public debate continues over whether convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh should be granted a stay of his May execution, Gonzaga University is sponsoring an open mike night on capital punishment.

This public forum is a culmination of a film and speakers series, which includes a video presentation by former Florida death row inmate Sunny Jacobs on Friday.

Jacobs and her husband Jesse Tofero were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of two police officers in Florida. Tofero was executed, before evidence was discovered that cleared both him and Jacobs of any wrongdoing. Her husband dead, Jacobs was released and exonerated.

"It's important for people to express themselves, and I think there's a shift right now as to the death penalty in this country," says Rusty Nelson from the Peace and Justice Action League, which is cosponsoring the event. "More people are aware of the people who have spent time on death row without being guilty."

Currently, 10 people sit on death row in Washington state. The last execution was that of 27-year-old Jeremy Sagastegui, which took place on October 13, 1998. Sagastegui was convicted of first-degree murder.

"Executing someone doesn't always bring the release and closure to victims' families that people expect," says Nelson. "All it does is it leaves one more person dead."

— Pia K. Hansen

Speak out on capital punishment is on Monday, Feb. 26, at 7 pm at the Gonzaga University Law School's Courtroom, 721 N. Cincinnati St. The Sunny Jacobs video presentation is on Friday, Feb. 23, at noon, in the same location. Call: 838-7870.

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