There is no more direct way to spread Jesus’s Good News than to take to the streets. You have a chance to do just that by joining the Presbyterian Rainbow contingent in the Capital Region Pride Parade circling Washington Park in Albany. Come on down to First Presbyterian Church, Albany (362 State Street) around 10:00 AM if you want to help with decorating. Otherwise, just show up before the start of the parade (scheduled for noon) and find the Presbyterian Rainbow contingent either outside the First Presbyterian Church or in the parade line-up in Washington Park. It’s free and it’s fun!
Marching in the parade as followers of Jesus sends the simple message that God’s love extends to all people, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or just different (“queer”) in their gender identity. In addition, members of the LGBTQ community get to hear from us a message countering the message of hate that has become too readily identified as the “Christian” voice in our society.
As Presbyterians affiliated with the PCUSA, we may feel that questions regarding homosexuality—ordination and marriage—are now behind us, as the result of recent actions of the General Assembly. Those actions, however, took place inside the church, and LGBTQ persons who are outside the church— some of whom left the church at earlier stages of debate— still need to hear the news. More important, they need to hear more than the news of policy changes; they need to see how members of the church intend to live out church policy in their relations with LGBTQ sisters and brothers.
The debate in Albany Presbytery about overture 050 (the so-called “healing” overture) exposed some limits in church policy regarding homosexuality. As an institution, the PCUSA has so far not taken an unambiguously affirming stance toward LGBTQ persons. The church has allowed those whose conscience prompts them to take such a stance to do so, while also honoring the conscience of those who disagree. I believe there is some motivational benefit in this arrangement. It means that those of us who wish to be fully affirming cannot depend on the church to speak for us.
We need to take the initiative to speak from our hearts and to speak directly to those who have felt excluded by the message of the church in the past. Participation in the Capital District Pride Parade is an ideal opportunity to speak out in this way. I urge anyone who shares these convictions to come and join the chorus.
Picture above: Jesus traditionally leads the Presbyterian Rainbow contingent in the Capital District Pride Parade