A Syracuse priest is making sure everyone who walks through the doors of his parish feels welcome.

Father Fred Daley leads worship at All Saints Church, where he goes out of his way to ensure that members of the LGBTQ+ community in the area have a safe and welcoming place to worship.

The church is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. Father Daley and the church’s LGBTQ task force are throwing open the doors of the congregation to all, while challenging what they call the ignorance of fellow Catholics who question their right to be a part of the church and calling out what they say is a tendency to allow scripture interpretation to evolve on some social issues, but not others.

“Jesus loves every person and all people without condition, and called his disciples to certainly live that way,” Daley said.

Daley, himself an openly gay priest, and members of the LGBTQ task force at All Saints said they have no doubt that the love of Jesus Christ is with them.

“He had a special tenderness for those who are perceived as outsiders,” Daley said.

For many in the group, like Toni Guidice of Syracuse, that understanding of the overarching teachings of Jesus Christ is the basis of their faith.

“God kissed lepers, he ate with sinners. Everyone, he accepts everyone. It’s not a crazy extension to believe that God loves gay people,” she said.

When it comes to the six verses Daley says are often used to “clobber people over the head,” as he put it, he insists they were written at a time when the idea of individual sexual orientation was not understood, and criticizes those who zero in on those verses while allowing interpretation of scripture to evolve when it comes to other passages.

“All mainline Christian scripture scholars, including mainland Catholic scripture scholars, make it very clear that none of those six passages say anything about sexual orientation as we understand it today,” Daley said, emphasizing that the idea of individual sexual orientation did not exist at the time the passages were written.

“And yet we continue to use those passages to exclude people, to hurt people and to drive them away,” he said.

Daley also emphasized that he does not see it as appropriate to compare loving someone of the same sex to what he calls more harmful Biblical transgressions, such as adultery.

Jeff Wright, also of Syracuse and a member of the LGBTQ Task Force, said that through interactions with others, slowly, he can see the reliance on those passages as a means of discrimination being chipped away.

“How quickly the stigma can go away that they’ve grown up with or learned through society or through religion, and that’s what keeps me going sometimes,” he said. “One of the most important things that happened is that more people came out and people say, ‘oh, I didn’t know you were gay, and I like you,’” Guidice added.

Pastoral associate Meg Kasander said that by letting go of some of the more divisive interpretations of scripture, as a parish they feel it brings them closer to the heart of Jesus Christ’s teachings.

“As we honor our diversity and inclusiveness here at All Saints, we become more able to carry on the mission of God in terms of outreach”,” she said.

For Chrispin Ojwang, who said such a level of tolerance was difficult to find in his native Kenya, it’s part of what attracted him to the church.

“I think that a church like All Saints that is welcoming to all, that will accept everyone, makes a lot of meaning to me because it then makes it easier to understand or to explain to anyone that everyone can be accepted by God,” he said.

Daley said that‘s exactly his vision for the parish.

“Everybody who walks into these doors and commits themselves to the parish brings gifts and talents and faith that make the rest of us more faithful to the gospel,” he said.

The church is also known for its extensive advocacy work, assisting refugees within the community.

The Diocese of Syracuse did not provide comment for this story.