Alabama Methodist Church to host ‘gay wedding party’ to celebrate controversial ‘Arthur’ episode

Alabama Public Television station may have 86-ed a controversial episode of the popular PBS children's series 'Arthur' featuring a same-sex wedding, but the Methodist church is planning to celebrate the holy matrimony.

The city's First United Methodist Church is planning to serve wedding cake and sparkling apple juice at a free screening of "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" on the morning of June 15, according to The Birmingham News.

The May 13 episode, which was the premiere of the show's 22nd season, featured the wedding of the gang's third-grade teacher Nigel to his boyfriend Patrick, who are a rat and an aardvark.

Citing concerns to the public, APT's programming chief Mike McKenzie chose not to air the episode and ran a repeat of another episode.

In 2005, the publicly-funded station refused to air another "Arthur" episode featuring lesbian characters.

First United partnered with Rachel Morgan, creative director of Sidewalk Film Festival and Shout LGBTQ Film Festival, to organize the wedding party.

"Weddings take places at churches all the time. So First Church seems like a perfect venue for the cartoon in my opinion," Morgan said. "(The church) frequently communicates to the community that they are an 'open place for all,' and I think this event reflects that statement."

The Associated Press reports that United's senior pastor, the Rev. Stephanie Arnold, urged Methodists to keep struggling for "full inclusion," saying "we want to extend God's love and grace for all people," despite a recent vote by leaders of the nation's largest protestant denomination to strengthen its ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages.