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Love brings community to Tacoma’s Life Center church to remember Orlando victims

kocker@thenewstribune.com

The Rev. Dean Curry wants to bring love to the community in Tacoma, regardless of the beliefs of its members.

After 49 people were fatally shot in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday in a gay nightclub, the lead pastor at Life Center church in Central Tacoma put together a candlelight vigil, inviting political and religious leaders from throughout the community, which he led late Monday.

“We want to love and support the LGBT community, even if we don’t agree with their behaviors,” Curry said before the vigil. “Let’s just agree that we won’t agree on much, but let’s just agree on peace.”

Among the speakers was Tacoma City Councilwoman Victoria Woodards, a member of the Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church, who likened what happened at the Pulse club in Orlando to a hate crime last summer in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Roof allegedly sat through an AME church service before fatally shooting nine members of its congregation — “people who look like me,” Woodards said.

“When I say to your community, ‘I feel your pain’ — I feel your pain,” Woodards said, choking up.

Pastor Toney Montgomery, who leads the Tacoma Ministerial Alliance, spent his remarks talking about the miracle of life, how rare it is for one sperm and one egg to create one unique person.

“We should honor our own person, but we should also be honored that we are sitting next to a person — not a religious person, not a gendered person, but a person,” Montgomery said. “Love the person next to you, love yourself and love the community of humanity.”

State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, the first out lesbian to serve in the Legislature, gave a similar speech to the one she gave at the vigil Sunday night at Tollefson Plaza downtown that drew about 700 people, imploring people to act on their love to make the world better.

But Jinkins noted the awkwardness of the event being held at the church where people in same-sex marriages don’t feel welcome to worship.

“This is a place that neither I nor my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have felt welcome in. I so welcome the invitation to be here tonight,” Jinkins said. “I hope this is the opening of a door that hadn’t been open before.”

Curry, Life Center’s lead pastor for 10 years, said that supporting the community in its time of mourning is something he can do without politics or beliefs in the way.

“We have to be more loving before we agree,” Curry said. “We won’t settle all the issues unless we love each other.”

Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627, @KennyOcker

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