Local churches embrace Pride month all year long

  • Feature   Wed, Jun 23rd, 2021   Olivia Miller

As Pride month, in celebration of LGTBQ+ individuals, comes to a close, many community churches express the positive impact a welcoming mindset has for their congregations. Some local churches have been affirming and welcoming LGBTQ+ individuals, making sure that their space is a safe one for people to show up as they are.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Hamburg is one that has been working for many years to create inclusive spaces for those who would like to be a part of services. In 2004, they created a welcome statement that works to support LGBTQ+ and other individuals who may face discrimination in Wilmot Township.
The statement reads, “Whether you are male, female or transgender, young or old, straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual, you are welcome here.”
Pastor Tanya Ramer at Trinity Church explained, “I think it is important for a church to be welcoming to all of God’s children. God’s people are so wonderfully made, so uniquely themselves, and that is what makes the world so beautiful; the diversity of people and experiences only makes God’s love more amazing.”
In celebrating Pride with their church community during a pandemic, they shared a Pride Greetings video from Bishop Michael Pryse, of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada, to YouTube. It can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh17bluxUxk
Trinity’s efforts as a church are not limited to the month of June, however. Ramer added, “We are recognized as a Reconciling in Christ congregation, and Trinity was at the forefront of conversations of welcome in our wider church.”
St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church out of Baden is also working to support the LGBTQ+ community, recognizing that it is a wonderful way to reach all members of Wilmot Township. “Proclaiming from the pulpit a welcome to all including the LGBTQ community is one way we engage the community,” said Pastor Bonnie Schelter Brown.
Brown explains that this isn’t the first of her outreach with LGBTQ individuals, specifically young adults. “I have done work with LGBTQ youth and always show grace and love to young people as they figure out their way in the world around sexuality, gender identity and any life or faith questions they may have. The most important thing for the church is simply to love whoever comes before God and share Gods love with all.”
Many LGBTQ+ individuals find that discovering a safe space to practice religion can be difficult because of their identity. Hearing that these churches in Wilmot are actively working to embrace LGBTQ+ folks is slowly removing this barrier.
Brown shared, “I have found openly welcoming the LQBTQ community, particularly our youth has made our whole community more accepting and welcoming. When we are more accepting it seems the feeling of love and a deeper understanding of the gospel grows.”
A 20-year-old male from Wilmot, who preferred to remain anonymous, speaks highly of services at St. James Lutheran Church because of their efforts to prioritize inclusion. “(Brown’s) sermons are always about unity in some way. Accepting people in whatever shape, size or colour they come in. They are always captivating and extremely informative.”
He added, “There were sometimes members of the congregation who weren’t a fan of her messages of equality, but she kept preaching about it because she believed it was the right thing to do.”
As churches all over the world continue to embrace the understanding through their religion that all love is love, our community can be encouraged by the leaders in our area who are continuing to grow their religious spaces to be supportive and welcoming to all.