Religious leaders open their arms, altars for ceremonies to continue 

Much of the attention about this week’s same-sex weddings is focused on City Hall, but churches and other religious centers are also gearing up for the festivities.

On Friday, Congregation Sherith Israel on California Street will host its first same-sex wedding since the congregation began in 1850.

The Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco on Lyon Street first performed wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples in the 1990s, and today and Wednesday and June 25-26, they will offer free ceremonies to couples.

The Rev. Rachel Rivers said the church has long married gay couples before it became socially acceptable, such as it did for couples of different races or religions.

"This church sees marrying same-sex couples as continuing in that tradition," Rivers said.

The Rev. Greg Stewart of the First Unitarian Church intends to accommodate same-sex couples wanting to marry. He’s parking a decorated van of the Franklin Street church at City Hall to perform "weddings on wheels."

Pastor Dr. Wilfried Glabach of the First Congregational Church on Polk Street — the second-oldest church in The City — said he had received calls from same-sex couples in Oklahoma and Colorado wanting to wed.

The Rev. Hiroshi Abiko of the Buddhist Church of San Francisco said the church has been conducting them for 30 years. "America’s kind of slow for awakening," Abiko said. "What is true and real is equality."

dsmith@sfexaminer.com

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