June is Pride Month in the United States, an opportunity to celebrate our LGBTQ+ siblings and to advocate for increased safety and civil rights. Across the state, in small towns and large cities, communities will mark this celebration with festivals, parades, and more, inviting LGBTQ+ people and affirming organizations and businesses to participate.
In the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, faith communities are intentionally engaging in Pride festivals, parades, special worship services, and more as part of our living our call to love and serve God in every human being and to offer an invitation to learn more about The Episcopal Church, where all are truly welcomed and loved, exactly as they are. Communities will hand out information, offer special blessings, opportunity for prayers, and more.
Reflecting on Facebook after Grand Rapids Pride last Saturday, Nicolle Brown of St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids reflected saying, “Just finished my shift at the Blessed at Pride booth… Working that booth is one of the most profoundly spiritual things I have done in the last year. I don’t assume who would or wouldn’t want a glitter blessing… this year there was a lot of choking up on both sides…”
Earlier this year, the diocesan evangelism office offered an invitation to our faith communities: if your congregation can commit to being there in-person, we will sponsor your local festival and arrange for your booth space. Over thirty congregations (about a third of our communities!) answered the call, attending or planning to attend at least eighteen Pride celebrations over the course of 2023. About half have taken place, with others to follow through the rest of this month and through the fall.
Earlier this year, the dioceses offered an LGBTQ+ inclusion training at St. David’s, Lansing and debuted a new resource, the “Guide for LGBTQ+ Inclusion for Churches and Ministries.” Click here to access the guide, to learn more about this part of our human family and for practical steps in creating safer and more inclusive faith spaces.
We are also offering 2023 Diocesan Pride T-shirts, as part of the effort to show up and say proudly, “you are loved — no exceptions!” T-shirts (and sweatshirts) can be purchased at this link and are available in several colors.