I don’t know about you, but religion isn’t exactly the first thing that crosses my mind when I think about Charlotte’s Pride Week. But it actually plays a big role.
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, a minister in the United Church of Christ, will be one of the parade grand marshals. And last Sunday, the Charlotte Pride Interfaith Service at Caldwell Presbyterian Church was one of Pride Week’s kickoff events. Portions of the service were led by 20 clergy members of various faiths.
I talked with several local religious leaders about their Pride Week participation and their support of LGBTQ rights:
What are your thoughts on the role religion plays in Charlotte’s LGBTQ community?
Elder Lisa Raymaker, Caldwell Presbyterian Church:
Organized religion can be a difficult subject in the LGBTQ community because a lot of members of that community have been told that they are not accepted by most organized religions. Caldwell’s approach is to state openly that all are welcome and to show that we mean it through our actions within the LGBTQ community.
— Charlotte Pride (@cltpride) August 9, 2015
What is the biggest benefit of having so many faith leaders participating in Pride Week?
Rev. Debbie Warren, RAIN, Founder, CEO & President:
I think it’s very powerful. It sends a resounding message that our city is not going to tolerate religious discrimination of LGBTQ people. It gives hope to youth growing up in judgmental faiths and provides healing to those who carry wounds from mistreatment and discrimination.
Participants have an opportunity to connect with clergy who support them in their journey. It provides our faith community the opportunity to live out their vision to create a more just, loving and hopeful world.
Why is it important for your organization to be active in Pride Week and the LGBTQ community?
Rev. Patrick Hamrick, First United Methodist Church – Charlotte:
It is a matter of biblical obedience. We are commissioned to share the love of God with all, and for First UMC Charlotte, all means ALL. In our religious tradition, we stand with the oppressed.
Being in ministry with the LGBTQ community means standing alongside people who have been bullied and marginalized and discriminated against for decades.
Do you believe that support of LGBTQ rights strengthens your organization?
Rabbi Judy Schindler, Temple Beth El:
According to the Jewish tradition, the Biblical Abraham and Sarah had their tent open on all four sides so that open any passerby could enter. As a faith community our role is to be inclusive, to welcome those who want to learn and live the values of our respective religions.
Being a part of the LGBTQ community enriches our congregations. Our perspectives are broadened. Our friendships are expanded. As our support strengthens the LGBTQ community, their support strengthens us. It is a win-win.
Photo: David Foster/Charlotte Observer
Sosha Lewis is a Charlotte writer who likes to chronicle heartfelt irreverence. Follow her on Twitter @soshallyawkward.