God of earthquake, God of thunder, Shake us loose from lethargy!
Break the chains of sin asunder, for earth’s healing set us free!
Crumble walls that still divide us; make us one in Christ our Lord.
We sang these words of a popular Pentecost hymn (ELW 400) on Sunday morning just a few days before marching in Haddon Township’s Pride Parade. After tie-dying our shirts (made for us locally by Camden Printworks) for the parade at our kick-off event, we met in the Westmont PATCO parking lot in our colorful shirts and got ready to march. It felt like the Holy Spirit was marching along, as the hymn pleads, shaking us loose from the lethargy we often experience when we don’t act. Our banner proclaimed “All are welcome. You are welcome.” as we walked down Haddon Avenue, receiving both excited and shocked looks. A woman excitedly shouted “Yes! That’s what Jesus would do!” as she saw us and a teenager holding a sign that said “You can’t pray away gay” smiled when they saw us.
You may think that marching in the parade is not necessary as our church is not against the LGBTQIA community, but many people outside of the church don’t know that. With the evangelical church being the most vocal church in the US, the main message many hear is one of non-acceptance, so they assume that they do not belong in church or to God. Our theology of a loving and affirming God must be loud and clear against messages like that, so marching in the parade was one way to proclaim our faith in a God who loves and welcomes all – as the hymn states, crumbling the walls that still divide us.
Our third event was the discussion of Emmy Kegler’s memoir “One Coin Found.” We shared how we saw ourselves or friends we knew in Emmy’s story and discussed what had propelled us to participate more actively in the work of justice and peace in the church. Her frank discussion of mental health was also an important one that we felt like the church needs to speak about more. We also decided that to be truly inclusive, our embrace and celebration of the LGBTQIA community must be active all year round, and not only in June – though we rejoice with the celebration and the education that comes with Pride month and will continue participating in it until we are truly made one in Christ our Lord.