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LGBT group OneTable finds acceptance at evangelical college in Pasadena, Calif.

BY SARAH PARVINI, ASSOCIATED PRESS

PASADENA, Calif. -- Nick Palacios struggled to get his conservative Pentecostal parents to accept him as a gay evangelical Christian for nearly a decade before his family found a common ground through faith.

Now, as an openly gay seminarian, the 29-year-old hopes to carve out a similar acceptance for other gays in the broader evangelical community through his role as president of the nation's first LGBT student club sanctioned by a major evangelical seminary. The group, called OneTable, formed last fall at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, one of the world's largest multi-denominational seminaries, and has attracted about three dozen students.

"It quickly became apparent to me that I was going to be OK and that I wasn't going to have to forsake my faith for my sexuality," Palacios said of his struggle for acceptance.

"I really hope that people will see Fuller and OneTable as a model of what the body of the church is supposed to do in this situation."

Fuller's stance has created ripples in the larger world of Christian colleges and seminaries, where a growing number of gay evangelical students are asserting their dual identities with underground clubs and nascent political activism. Last year, for example, a group called the Biola Queer Underground was quashed by Biola University, a small, conservative Christian school in nearby Orange County.

This fall, the LGBT group plans on staging rallies to combat the Biola's longstanding policy on homosexuality - that sexual relationships are reserved for heterosexual marriage - and address what many students call a campus climate of fear and shame.

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