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Sierra Pacific Synod Congregations Celebrate Pride Month

Congregations across the Sierra Pacific Synod radically proclaimed their welcome of LGBTQ+ siblings by participating in Pride festivities! From Pride marches to Pride worship services, faith leaders throughout the synod celebrated Pride this June boldly.

According to our friends at GLAAD, “The majority of Pride events are held in June to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City on June 28, 1969, which most historians consider to be the birth of the modern LGBT movement. At the time, police raids on bars catering to LGBT patrons were common, but that night, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back. While historical accounts of the night vary, the violent response ignited a national firestorm of activism that brought new visibility to the struggle for LGBT equality.”

Congregations in our synod are no strangers to celebrating and affirming their LGBTQ+ neighbors. In fact, nearly ⅓ of our Synod’s congregations are Reconciling in Christ partners. (1) How do these congregations live into this public commitment?

At St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento, Calif., the 1128 ministry team (2), inspired by the passage Matthew 11:28, is at the forefront of LGBTQ+ inclusion. On Sunday, June 12, the 1128 ministry team hosted a booth at the Sacramento Pride Festival. Gary Cadwising, a St. John’s member and leader of the budding 1128 ministry team, shared his experience at Sacramento Pride.

“Aside from giving away buttons and stickers and flyers and cards with crosses, one of the significant things we offered to people was to share their hurts. We had a bunch of flat rocks and liquid chalk markers sitting out on the table with a sign that asked them, “Have you been hurt by the Church? Write it on a rock,.”” shared Cadwising. “There were a variety of responses, and I loved it. I didn’t love the fact that there were so many hurts, but I loved that, we as a congregation, represented the Church in saying, “We acknowledge the hurts done in God’s name. We hear you. We see you. We want you to share. And we want you to know that God loves you, no matter what. You are welcome here.””

Folk at Thanksgiving Lutheran Church in Santa Rosa, Calif. spent a sunny Saturday in early June marching in the Sonoma County Pride Parade alongside their ministry partners at Knox Presbyterian Church. Tie-dye shirts worn by smiling Lutherans and large signs proclaiming that “God’s love is fully inclusive” were a staple in the quaint wine country parade.

“Along with several other spiritual communities, our churches were well-accepted by the crowds. A few of our signs included, “Jesus had 2 dads and He turned out just fine!” and “God’s Love is Fully Inclusive!” We also advertised our monthly “Healing Service” (directed toward but not isolated to this LGBTQ+ community) through bags of treats with a card that included service times, a welcoming statement, and our church info,” shared Thanksgiving Lutheran member Jordan Eberly.

Thanksgiving Lutheran Church is a proud Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation and is served by the Rev. Janet Blair. This past Sunday, June 26, the congregation held a special Pride Service to conclude Pride month. The congregation used resources from Sundays and Seasons and ReconcilingWorks to put together this service.

This past weekend, folk across the Bay Area gathered for the well-known San Francisco Pride Festival, a weekend long celebratory gathering with booths, speakers, and the popular parade on Sunday afternoon. Peace Lutheran Church in Danville, Calif., Our Savior Lutheran Church in Lafayette, Calif., and St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco, Calif. were just a few of the faith communities that gathered for yesterday afternoon's parade.

Down south of the city, Deacon-Candidate JJ Godwin and the Rev. Dawn Roginski, synod council member, participated in the San Mateo Pride festival. The celebrative Saturday featured drag performers, food vendors, face painters, and so much more.

“At least two dozen information booths from queer health care options, religious and spiritual communities, mental health, and peer support groups, help lines, historical awareness, parent support and arts & crafts…So many people showing up with their own PRIDE and being available to support and educate anyone who wanted to know more,” shared Deacon-Candidate Godwin.

While many celebrate Pride throughout the month of June, we encourage all to amplify the voices of our LGBTQ+ siblings and celebrate who they are every month. If you’re looking for one last Pride celebration this summer, the Northern Nevada Pride Parade and Festival is happening on Saturday, July 23 in downtown Reno. You can learn more about the event here.

1. Learn more about Reconciling in Christ partner organizations and ministries here.

2. Learn more about St. John’s Lutheran Church 1128 ministry team here.

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