On June 10, we observed Pride Sunday here at SCUCC: We celebrated our heritage as a UCC Open & Affirming congregation of nearly two decades, as well as our return to the Phoenix Pride festival this year, and our intention to significantly update our ONA statement in honor of its 20th birthday in October. We were blessed to have We3 with us, providing a fantastic musical backdrop for the celebration.
The service opened with a poignant clip from the movie “Love, Simon,” and the jubilant Sister Sledge song “We Are Family.” From there, we read our church welcome statement together—a statement that debuted at the 2017 Pride service, lives on the church website throughout the rest of the year, and was expanded by one line this year.
Our scripture for the day stated that, “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal” (Galatians 3:28) and led us into a time of testimony. Transgendered author, educator, and advocate Melisa Mel spoke with the children and then the adults, acknowledging that many people can feel different from others and therefore isolated and lonely. She shared how much encouragement books and journaling had brought to her in challenging times and invited us to join her in committing thoughts to paper as we move throughout our lives. (She even gave each of us a little notebook and a brand-new, unsharpened pencil as a reminder!) Mel explained that this was her introduction to SCUCC, as she’d be participating in an ONA workshop the church will be offering this summer.
We also heard from first time Pride attendees Diana and Connor, both of whom had very positive experiences. They noted how much SCUCC’s presence as a Christian church was appreciated and that, whether or not this attracted people to our church was almost beside the point. It is our witness, the demonstration that there are churches that stand with and for the LGBTQ+ community, that matters most.
Finally, the ONA Task Force introduced the revised ONA statement that it has crafted together over many months and plans for the congregation to vote on after worship on September 9. Following communion and a moving ritual of farewell for Glen and Tara, we wrapped up the service with another jubilant anthem, “I’m Coming Out.”
This uplifting service was only the beginning of the dialogue. We, the ONA Task Force, invite as many of you as possible to continue the conversation with us in some specially programmed Diving Deeper sessions over the summer, as well as in the aforementioned ONA Workshop, which is scheduled for 8:30 am to noon on Saturday, August 4. It will focus on topics related to transgendered persons. Unfortunately, we have just learned that, due to health issues, Melisa Mel will be unable to participate. However, she has recommended some equally gifted speaker-educators, one of whom should be able to co-lead the event with us in her absence.
Thank you for the wideness of your welcome. We look forward to taking this transformative educational journey with you.