The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy, a priest in the Diocese of Bethlehem (PA) writes of what it was like for a number of congregations in that diocese to set up an evangelism event at a regional gathering of GLBT people.
“Yesterday, about 40 members of the Diocese from six parishes (Grace, Allentown; Mediator, Allentown; St Andrew’s, Allentown; St. Anne’s, Trexlertown; Trinity, Bethlehem; and Trinity, Easton) hosted our booth at the Lehigh Valley Gay Pride event. It was a remarkable show of solidarity. Of the 40, only four or five were themselves gay. That sent a clear message that the Episcopal Church, not the gay members of the Episcopal Church, welcomes everyone into our community. Other parishes that contributed to the two-page ad in the Pride in the Park booklet and to the cost of the tent and materials were the Cathedral, Bethlehem; Christ Church, Stroudsburg; St. Margaret’s, Emmaus; and Trinity, Mt. Pocono; as well as the Safe Spaces Committee of the Diocese.[…]The Episcopalians at our booth did not try to convince our visitors of any theological position about any issue, including the issues related to sexuality that trouble our Church and the Anglican Communion. (The staffers may not even have held the same position. They did not discuss it.) What our Sisters and Brothers did was extend a welcome to everyone who would receive it. They handed out brochures for all the congregations that sent them, as well as literature from Integrity concerning the conversation in our Church about GLBT people and their place in our common life.
At the entrance to the park, fundamentalist street preachers with large placards stationed themselves. They spewed hate and berated those who passed by. Our Diocese, along with a few other individual congregations of other denominations, painted a far more flattering picture of Christianity and offered a real Gospel witness. Whatever your view on issues of human sexuality, I think you would have been proud of our Brothers and Sisters. They represented us exceedingly well.”
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