Church to hold Pride Service
Organisers of a weekend gay pride church service said yesterday they hoped it would attract people outside the usual congregation.
Sandy Mayor, chairwoman of the board at Wesley Methodist Church, said: “I would love for people from outside the community to come and see that we're not an aberration, that really we're just a community of faith that are celebrating Christ's love.
“This service — while it will recognise a different group — we're talking about the love of Christ. I believe that if you close your eyes and listen to the service it's nothing different than what is being preached on any other service.”
The church, on Church Street, will hold its third annual Pride Service this Sunday.
“Love is a Many-Gendered Thing” is the theme of this year's sermon.
Reverend Meredith Fraser, the church pastor, said the theme was about “the love that encompasses everyone we meet — whatever colour, whatever gender, whatever nationality, whatever creed.”
The Hamilton church is in communion with the United Church of Canada.
Ms Mayor said that UCC allows its congregations to decide whether to perform same-sex marriages or carry out blessings.
She said that four years ago a member who had married his same-sex partner overseas asked the church to bless the marriage.
Ms Mayor said: “Although it was a struggle, because it was the first time we had to consider that, we indeed went ahead with the blessing.”
She said the first Pride event was born out of the desire to celebrate the “courageous move” taken by the church “in a fairly conservative community”.
She added: “It's almost become automatic since then that it's something that we wanted to include in our annual calendar of events.”
Ms Mayor said that members of the public had often praised the church for its position on same-sex marriage.
She added: “I've had people speak to me and say ‘Oh I wish our church would do that' or ‘Bravo, for taking that stand'.
“I think there are a lot of people in the community that actually are very supportive.”
Ms Mayor said that many gay people — particularly those brought up in a religious environment — did not feel safe in some churches.
She added: “We want people to know — regardless of what their background is, churched or unchurched — they are welcome on any Sunday at Wesley.”
The service starts at 11am.