In our mission statement we recognize our own calling as Presbyterian Welcome includes laboring for a world where all persons might live into the calling that God has placed in their hearts. This looks very different for us from moment to moment. At times we journey with people struggling to make it through the ordination process, and at others we advocate for polity change. But sometimes God calls us to the joyous labor of celebration. This past Sunday, with millions of others, we responded to a call to celebrate at the Pride March. We gathered along Fifth Avenue to celebrate the ways in which God creates and recreates us as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning persons.
It is difficult to describe the power of seeing millions of people who have too often been taught by our religious communities that we are less than to celebrate the very identities that others have used to ostracize, reject, and attack them. That is something only the movement of the Spirit can inspire.
Presbyterian Welcome was able to partner with the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York this year to passing out water from the Evelyn Davidson Memorial Water Project and home-baked cookies to some very appreciative marchers. We also offered old-fashioned church fans that list our 20 member churches and our new worshipping community, Not So Churchy.
We could not have done it without the support of First Church and the overwhelming number of volunteers that gathered to help out. These included members from Broadway, Fifth Avenue, First, Lafayette Avenue, Rutgers, West Park, and Watchung Avenue Presbyterian Churches. Thanks to all of you that baked cookies, donated to our cookie fund, filled water cups, designed fans, and shared God’s love and welcome with the marchers. You are amazing witnesses to God’s radical hospitality.
The grandness of the bright colors, loud music, and, well... sweaty smells of the Pride March were one testimony of the way that God is working in people’s lives. The same morning, a brave member stood in the pulpit of Watchung Avenue Presbyterian Church to testify to how his community has given him new life.
Please listen to John Sullivan’s heartfelt words about the power of being welcomed as a gay man into his church. They moved us to tears.
You do not have to march in a parade to celebrate how the Spirit has moved in your life. John’s testimony reminds us of what the church knows best: the power of storytelling. He offers a great example of how individual churches can boldly proclaim the gospel on a local level. We are also more excited than ever that the theme for this year’s LGBTQ Inquirers and Candidate Retreat is “What We Need is Here: Storytelling for Change.”
We are grateful for the work we get to do and the amazing people we get to co-create with. May we continue to celebrate in big and small ways, the people God calls us to be.