As we enter Victoria Pride week, June 30 – July 7, I look forward to celebrating Pride in the congregation I serve and with the wider Victoria community. We will celebrate diversity and inclusion in our city and the world and lift up the need to protest against continued marginalization and harm to members of the Queer community, including harm caused by the Christian tradition. Acknowledging that of which I am not proud, my hope is that we celebrate inclusion this week and everyday in the best sense of Pride, not “hiding a light under a basket” as Jesus said, but “let your light so shine before others that they see your good works and give glory to God in heaven.”
From its website: the Victoria Pride Society organizes events in accordance with its mission to inspire full inclusion within the Pride Community and society at large through visibility, collaboration, ongoing conversation and celebration. We envision a world free of discrimination, violence, and ignorance, in which all people, through education, equality, and safety are empowered to lead full, authentic lives.
Since 1994, the annual Victoria Pride Parade has brought together people to increase the visibility of the diverse Queer community in Victoria, celebrate resilience and protest against continued marginalization.
The Victoria Pride Society organizes events where everyone is responsible to help create and maintain safer spaces for participants that celebrate diversity, promote inclusivity, and which are free of all forms of oppression and anything that can harm or limit our rights and personal well-being.”
These words of the Victoria Pride Society proclaim a mission and goals that we as a faith community should be proud to support and let shine!
Almost 30 years ago as a twenty something year old minister in the first community I served, we invited a representative from the local AIDs agency to speak to the congregation about the AIDs crisis. Following the presentation, the presenter and I had the chance to talk. I learned to my surprise that they had attended Lutheran seminary, having completed theological studies up to internship, but was prevented from interning and completing their studies because of being gay, and therefore not allowed to serve the church in ordained ministry. I was shocked and troubled. In truth I had not thoughtfully considered the question and had not been confronted with the reality of a person in the community of Christ being excluded for who they are. And that began a journey of questioning the tradition of which I was part, the Biblical justification and the harm it caused, and the need for reform. It took 25 more years and the work of many courageous LGBTQ2S+ people and allies to see positive change in local communities and nationally in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and America. While the formal steps to full inclusion have been realized, the local and day to day reality continues to require greater effort to “create and maintain safe spaces… that celebrate diversity, promote inclusivity, which are free of all forms of oppression… .”
Almost ten years ago Lutheran Church of the Cross took the formal step of adopting a statement of inclusion. But recently, we have begun to more publicly express our commitment to inclusion, and to protest against exclusion including within our Christian tradition. We are learning to let the light of Pride shine, and to give glory to God in heaven. Happy and blessed Pride.
Rev. Lyle McKenzie is Co-Pastor of Lutheran Church of the Cross, and part time Chaplain in UVic Multifaith Services.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the TImes Colonist in Saturdau, June 29th 2019