August 3, 2023

Next Saturday, August 12, is Eugene’s Pride Festival. The celebration includes a day long festival at Alton Baker Park with booths, vendors, entertainment and a joyous reminder that love is love. Unfortunately, we were unaware of the deadline to reserve booth space and missed that opportunity, but we can still be present and seen as a voice of Christ’s love for all.

  The Episcopal Church wrestled in faith with issues of human sexuality since the 60’s and 70’s, coming to a decision point twenty years ago with the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and his subsequent confirmation by General Convention. Since then, we have removed one hurdle after another until, after centuries of failing them, we are now deeply gratified to fully welcome LGBTQ+ images of God. 
  Our journey to this place has been so much a part of our lives that we assume everybody else knows about it too. It’s true that we created a little news in 2003 and a little more as we first blessed same-sex unions and then marriages, but despite the publicity, most people have never heard of the Episcopal Church and have no idea how different we are from the Christianity they know. Too often the strident shouting of conservative Christians is the only voice that society hears. Many, likely most, non-Christians and former Christians associate the name “Christian” with judgement, exclusion, and bigotry instead of mercy, welcome, and acceptance. The only way to change that is for us to love out loud, to love loud enough that we can be heard above the voices of hate. We aren’t good at being loud, but here is a chance to start.
The Pride Festival begins with a march from Kesey Square (at the corner of Broadway and Willamette) to Alton Baker Park (1.3 miles) where the Festival will continue. I hope that as many of our congregation as are able will march together. We will have a processional cross, stickers, buttons, and whatever signs and banners each of us might bring ourselves, and we will have plenty of love to share out loud. The march begins at 9:00. Not knowing how the crowd will be organized, getting together will not be easy. By 8:30 I will be as close to the square as the crowd allows. Look for the big wooden processional cross with a rainbow windsock attached. We’ll be holding it as high as we can. Failing that, text or call my cell phone (which I am not including here to prevent more scams and spoofs, but will share in other ways).

  Parking is limited, and Eugene Pride recommends using public transportation or a ride share service like Lyft or Uber, or carpooling. If someone would like to organize it (Is this someone you?), we can put together a carpool from the church. The closest parking lot, which should be free on Saturday, is the Overpark Garage on 10th Avenue. 

  Atoning for centuries of oppression begins with proclaiming our Pride in what the Spirit has made us today. I hope I’ll see you there!