2015 was a different kind of year for PRIDE participation in the diocese of New Westminster. For almost a decade the Christ Church, the Cathedral Church of the diocese has been the home of the Anglican PRIDE festivities with a Celebration of the Eucharist at 8am featuring the Service of Light, a moving ceremony when and where the two Altar candles and six additional candles in a rainbow candle holder situated on the Altar are lit, representing: fear, violence, AIDS, hope, healing, community, courage and resurrection. The worship was followed by breakfast and then there was usually some organizing of a contingent to participate in the parade following the community meal. However, this year the Cathedral was unavailable, as the building is closed for renovations and due to some new regulations regarding the registration of groups and organizations as parade participants, the diocese and in fact parishes were unable to participate. It is hoped that a resolution successfully presented to and then carried by Diocesan Council in an upcoming meeting will enable a return to full participation in the parade by a diocesan group or groups for 2016.
Even though Anglican participation in Vancouver PRIDE 2015 didn’t go as smoothly as hoped, the Parish of St. Paul’s in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood located on Jervis street a block north of Davie was glad to host the 2015 service. The event began with a sumptuous breakfast buffet served in the St. Paul’s hall at 8:30am. Granola, yogurts, pastries, lots of seasonal fruit were all fresh and delicious but the feature of the table were the plentiful slices of rainbow bread baked by long time parishioner and current Church Committee, member-at-large, John Wilson.
At 10am the Eucharist began in the sanctuary presided over by St. Paul’s incumbent, the Reverend Jessica Schaap. On a Sunday morning St. Paul’s offers three different liturgies at 8, 9:30 and 11am but for PRIDE there was just the one Celebration of the Eucharist. The service was well-attended with many members of the St. Paul’s community present but also a fair number of visitors who were made to feel very welcome. In the PRIDE Prayers and Announcements publication for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, page four was dedicated as the welcome page and read:
Welcome to our Parish
Vancouver Pride Celebration
We are honoured by your presence among us
And greet you as part of our family and as members of the Body of Christ
On this Pride Day Breakfast and Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, we offer a special welcome to all Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Genderqueer and Two-Spirit people.
All God’s fabulous children, regardless of gender identity
or gender expression are welcome here – always!
At St. Paul’s, appropriate attire means that people dress as they feel most comfortable.
Do feel free to introduce yourself and let others know your preferred pronoun.
The liturgy was the Choral Eucharist Celebration from the Book of Alternative Services. The homily consisted of three reflections from members of the parish who had been asked to speak briefly to the congregation about times in their lives when they had felt the presence of God in their lives. The first to speak, Rose positioned her reflection within the metaphor of dance and dancing; in a reflection that he titled “Pride and Prejudice”, Leslie spoke of his 21 years at St. Paul’s and how he has arrived at a deeper and divinely inspired understanding of diversity based on the extraordinary people that have come into his life through St. Paul’s; William said that for him God is always present so there hasn’t been a specific event or period when and where God has been more present than at other times, he said that “worry is a terrible thing” and that “living life with God as part of that life makes me happy”.
Five human members of St. Paul’s faith community and a canine member offered the intercession.
A choral quintet and organist, Michael Blais led the music of the Choral Eucharist. The hymns, acclamations and Communion music were sung enthusiastically by the PRIDE service congregation.
Just prior to the Dismissal, warden Tim Conklin resplendent in rainbow knee socks went up to the lectern, welcomed the congregation and thanked everyone for gathering to worship on PRIDE Sunday.
Many thanks to Tim, Jessica and the Parish of St. Paul’s for hosting this year’s PRIDE service, helping continue the tradition of inviting and welcoming all into “our family and as members of the Body of Christ”.