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.
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.
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.