June 12, 2018
Two years ago on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 49 persons were taken from us in the mass shooting against mostly Latinx LGBTQ persons at Pulse in Orlando. We remember the tears and recall the tolling of the bell in our Sanctuary, to proclaim, “Love will ALWAYS win!” Our own Brianna Brannan shared a moving and impassioned message in her Herald article after the event. Click here to read.
Sadly, we’ve moved on. Many more incidents across the nation have ended precious lives at the hand of another in their own pain and experiencing their own personal hell. My heart still cries for the victims of gay bashings, trans killings, where we don’t even find out the persons’ names; we just know it was another trans man, trans woman, trans person of color and again, sadly, we move on.
This anniversary, and the upcoming opportunity to share the morning message on Pride Sunday, June 24, motivated me to peruse Plymouth’s history marking another important milestone. May 16, 1993, at a special congregational meeting, Plymouth adopted a new policy to become an official Open and Affirming Congregation. The church would openly welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the full life and ministry, as members, leaders and staff. It was a public statement of hospitality, inclusion and Christian love. Now, 25 years later, we still seek ways to affirm people as they “come out,” and help others experience faith at Plymouth and in community together as a place for sanctuary and sharing beyond the borders of our comfort zones and barriers.
In conversation yesterday with leaders from GLSEN (formerly known as Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), I’m working to form new partnerships with organizations that can help us break down barriers and remove stigma through education and sharing real life experiences of who we are as people, all people, not just LGBTQ people. Together, we hope to bring opportunities for learning, sharing and growing in our understanding and our active participation as a faith community to change the narrative. While we may think the world has changed for the better regarding LGBTQ inclusion, we know recent policy changes in the current government administration and other state institutions are intent to deny people equal human rights to BE… to LIVE… to LOVE!
Next week, you’re invited to take action. Moving on must be coupled with our action to create positive changes. In preparation for our Pacific Northwest Conference UCC congregations’ participation in Seattle PRIDE Sunday, June 24, we will gather in the Lounge at 6:30 pm, Tuesday, June 19, to assemble gifts we distribute along the parade route. If you can be present for an hour, we can use your help! Then, Sunday, June 24, the parade will take us down 4th Ave. to Seattle Center. You’re invited to be part of the Plymouth group, help hand out gifts and carry our banner. If you’re not able to walk in the parade, come cheer along the route after worship and enjoy the day! If you can help by being a person of hospitality at our Pacific Northwest Conference UCC Booth at Seattle Center for a one-hour time block, please contact me: (firstname.lastname@example.org)! We’re looking for volunteers to help set up and persons to be present to greet booth visitors and share the joy of being an Open and Affirming Congregation!
Take part in and have PRIDE as a community of faith that seeks to promote PRIDE beyond the borders of Plymouth Church… beyond the borders of Capitol Hill… beyond the borders of Seattle… beyond the border of whatever progressive community bubble we may think exists. There’s work to be done, and a message to proclaim! There are voices we must hear and lift up! There are lives to be held close and cherished! There are people waiting to hear words of HOPE, LIFE and LOVE to welcome them in to experience God’s love through us! When we do that, we can all have PRIDE Beyond Borders! – Yours in grace and hope, Rev. Steven Davis, Executive Minister