Churches do all kinds of things to lure in parishoners these days. Church by the Glades has hip slogans and Zumba classes. Calvary Chapel has daycare, a coffee shop, an amazing restaurant and mission trips abroad. Even the stodgy Presbyterians have forsaken hymn books and now project lyrics on the wall to do all their songs via karaoke.
In the family of world religions, the Unitarian Church of Fort Lauderdale is the opposite of a fire-and-brimstone church; rather it's like your wonderful, warm, loving (slightly kooky) aunt with the dangly earrings. Draws include regular drumming-and-bonfire sessions and even a side group run by witches.
Member Lore Lovins explained that the Unitarians used to fall under the umbrella of Christianity, but have expanded to a more broad and inclusive view. "In a nutshell," she says, "we believe that all people are equal and that everyone has their own right to search for truth and meaning. We believe in equality and justice and that all paths are valid."
A guiding principle of the church, as described on its website, is "the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large."
As the social justice chair of the Fort Lauderdale church, Lovins has helped organize a "Right to Marry Rally" for 2 p.m. on Thursday -- Valentine's Day -- at the Broward County Courthouse (201 SE 6th St., Fort Lauderdale). Same-sex congregants and supporters will, she says, "go in to apply for marriage licenses - which we will be promptly denied."
They will also do mock marriages on site. She says that her pastor, a progressive rabbi, and some straight allies and notary publics are expected to join in and perform marriage ceremonies.
Lovins says that the church has "quite a few GLBT congregants who still don't have the right to marry in the state of Florida. I had some time ago written a letter to Rick Scott about it. The response I got from his secretary was that the governor believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And my response was, 'What do his beliefs have to do with our rights?'"
On Thursday, the rally will begin at 2 p.m. and the ceremonies at 3. Lovins is encouraging people to show up in wedding dresses and tuxedos. A flyer for the event says "Ask to get out of work early or come in late. Call in gay. Just show up!"
Lovins said, "This is the first year we'll be doing it and hopefully the last year we'll have to do it." For more information, see the flyer for the event.
If you plan your day right, you could make it to the witches' class on "Love Spells" at 7:30 p.m. "Do you need a love spell?" their website says. "Ask your local neighborhood witch."