Behind a common banner, a number of King County United Methodist faith communities marched together in Seattle's Pride Parade over the last weekend of June.

Overview & Photos by Patrick Scriven, Director of Communications & Young People’s Ministry

Over the last weekend of June, Seattle Pride, a non-profit organization which “coordinates and promotes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender pride events in the Seattle area” held its annual Pride Parade as part of its 40th year celebration. The weekend has become increasingly popular as public opinion have shifted to embrace diverse expressions of human sexuality. In 2012, Washington State became the first to approve, by voter referendum, the legality of same-sex marriage.

After preaching in the morning at Seattle's First Church, Rev. Ron Hines joined the congregation in offering hospitality to those attending Seattle's Pride Parade.
After preaching in the morning at Seattle’s First Church, Rev. Ron Hines joined the congregation in offering hospitality to those attending Seattle’s Pride Parade.

On Sunday morning, Seattle’s First United Methodist Church dedicated significant effort toward offering support and hospitality to those celebrating Pride. Interim Pastor Rev. Ron Hines preached a sermon which touched on both the changing public attitudes and upon those within the church. While carefully noting the existing position of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, Hines suggested that people see actions like those of the Western Jurisdiction, Bishop Melvin Talbert, and Rev. Frank Schaeffer getting his credentials back, as signs that the church is evolving in its position.

A number of guests attended the worship service including members of other area United Methodist churches who were marching in the parade. To them, Rev. Hines offered these words of commendation, “Your spiritual practice of marching in the Pride Parade, of giving cookies out, is a significant practice.” After a second service that morning, Hines could be found among a number of other church goers on the street outside First Church handing out cookies and beverages to tired parade walkers who were finishing their route to Seattle Center.

The acts of hospitality Rev. Hines encouraged were a counterbalance to the angry words of judgment that were among the first things heard by crowds gathered for the parade. A small group of “Christian” protesters shouted into a megaphone while carried signs demanding repentance and promising judgement. As a denomination, United Methodists remains divided on many questions pertaining to human sexuality but typically in agreement that judgment outside the context of relationship is rarely helpful.

The Rev. Kathleen Weber, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard, WA, was among a number of clergy who participated in the United Methodist presence at Seattle's 2014 Pride Parade.
The Rev. Kathleen Weber, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard, WA, was among a number of clergy who participated in the United Methodist presence at Seattle’s 2014 Pride Parade.

Members of more than a dozen United Methodist Churches marched behind a rainbow-colored balloon arch and a banner reading “All Are Welcome – Reconciling Congregations of The United Methodist Church”, making a significant visual impact as they made their way down the parade route handing out bookmark-sized cards which included a list of Reconciling congregations. While several of the churches had participated in Pride during past years, this was the first year they walked together in the parade.

The Rev. Kathleen Weber, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard, WA was willing to answer a few questions and and put us in touch with several others whose churches were involved in the planning of this year’s effort. The following responses are in their words and represent their opinions and experiences, with light editing for the reader. They should not be taken as representative of all United Methodists.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Hooray, maybe we can stop discriminating against people. I pray we don’t find anyone else to discriminate against in the name of religion or anything else. I believe any judgement, pentenance or conversion if appropriate for anyone, should be between God and the individual, not legislated by church or government. We are called to love people, that’s all! Not say how they should live, leave that up to God and enjoy the diversity all people offer us. Talk about saving lives, true acceptance without agreeing or disagreeing about life style, will save lives. Whatever you do to these you do unto me, said Jesus. Stop crucifying Him.

  2. As one who is perfectly satisfied with the current position of the United Methodist Church regarding the worth of homosexual people AND the statement that the practice of homosexuality is contrary to Christian teaching, I think it is GREAT that members of The United Methodist Church were present to extend hospitality to parade participants. The “Christians” who were shouting at the beginning of the parade were doing a disservice to Christ and His church.

    During the last year, I have been repeatedly called “hateful” and “unloving” by other United Methodist Christians (members of the reconciling movement) on social media because of my vocal support for our current United Methodist position. I have ACTUALLY been blocked on Twitter by @RMNetwork. I wish those in the reconciling movement would demonstrate as much respect and kindness toward those who adhere to the traditional interpretation of Christian scripture as they do toward those who flaunt their sinful behavior. .

    • Holly, thanks for the comment. I certainly can’t comment on a situation (re: RMN) without first hand information but I think there is a great point to be made about generosity and hospitality towards those who hold differing opinions. We are all too easily tempted to put others is boxes and paint those boxes in unflattering colors.

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