As part of the celebration of Pride in Liverpool next weekend, representatives of inclusive churches will be marching with a Christians at Pride banner.
Each year, a group called Christian Voice protests at Pride marches around the country. To show that there is more than one Christian voice, Christians at Pride exists to provide a joyful, loving, inclusive Christian presence at Pride festivals around the UK.
For the past two years, the Open Table LGBT+ Christian community based at St Bride’s in Toxteth has coordinated the Christians At Pride group in the Liverpool march. In 2018 more than 100 Christians joined the group, including Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes, former Archdeacon of Liverpool Ricky Panter, and Sheryl Anderson, Chair of Liverpool Methodist District.
Open Table is an inclusive church gathering offering an inclusive space for LGBT+ Christians to worship and explore their faith without fear of persecution or hostility. Beginning with a small gathering in Liverpool in 2008, Open Table is now a network of communities hosted by churches across England and Wales..
Liverpool celebrates its Pride festival this year on the 28th and 29th of July. In many places, June is commemorated as Pride Month, remembering the Stonewall riots of June 1969 which gave birth to the modern LGBT+ rights movement. In Liverpool, the festival is held on the nearest weekend to 2nd August, the anniversary of the death of Michael Causer following a homophobic attack in 2008.
This year, the theme of Pride is Come as You Are, inviting participants to come as themselves to the celebration no matter what they identify as, in a move to celebrate equality and diversity. Attendees are encouraged to make placards and banners or dress to express themselves along this theme.
Ministers and members of Merseyside churches are welcome to join the Christians At Pride group in solidarity with the Open Table Liverpool community. As Bishop Paul expressed on Twitter before walking with the Christians At Pride group last year:
‘Whatever Christians may believe about same-sex relationships, we surely all agree that homophobia / biphobia / transphobia is evil and wrong... Resist violence, resist homophobia, bless people, walk with us’.
Open Table will also have a stall in the Pride community space, where festival-goers can share conversations and make flags with messages of love, thanks, wishes and prayers. These will be used to decorate the Lady Chapel of Liverpool Cathedral for a reflective Post-Pride service on Sunday 28th July at 6:30pm. All are welcome to join in this service – refreshments will be served from 6pm.
This is the second year that the Cathedral has hosted a Post-Pride service. This year’s Pride service will be led by the Rev Lynne Jackson, a gay woman who has been a member of Open Table for some time. She is the first member of our community to be ordained in the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool.
Warren Hartley, coordinator of Christians at Pride in Liverpool, said, “Pride is a difficult concept in the Christian tradition. It’s more commonly thought of as a vice, not something to celebrate. So why do we celebrate Pride? The pride we celebrate isn't love of self over others, but the celebration of our identity as children of God. The psalmist says it far more eloquently: ‘I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’ That is something worth celebrating!”