Why We Celebrate PRIDE At St. Mark United Methodist Church

By Dr. Beth LaRocca-Pitts, Senior Pastor
St. Mark United Methodist Church
Atlanta, Georgia

During Pride week we at Saint Mark celebrate what for us is a time of great joy and fellowship. We cherish Pride week because this occasion marks the anniversary of momentous decision of our church to step out in love and invite a new group of people to worship Jesus Christ with us in our beautiful one hundred year old sanctuary. A handful of members, most of them older adults, extended their hands of fellowship and love to a community most churches shunned in those days. They handed out flyers to parade marchers that said “Everyone is Welcome at Saint Mark.” They handed out cups of water to thirsty marchers because in those days the parade was in June. They opened their arms to people dying of AIDS when others were afraid to shake their hands.

These members, many of whom are pillars of our church community today, though some have gone on to glory, epitomize what it means to offer Christ to others-not with threats of damnation like many of the Christians who will come to the parade on Sunday to shout Bible verses through bullhorns-but with love and compassion and welcome. This, more than anything, is who we are as a church. We are a church where EVERYONE, bar none, is welcome. This is the church Jesus Christ died to found.

We celebrate Pride because Pride more than any other secular occasion reminds us who we are – not so we can be proud of our own faith, or proud of our accomplishments. Pride reminds us of our best selves. Pride reminds us of our forerunners in faith. We are proud of them because they lived their faith and they inspire us to live ours. Let this Pride inspire you to serve the Lord in humility and love, just as if you were one of those Saint Markans twenty-three years ago who went to the curb and offered God’s most fabulous children a cup of cool water in the name of the Savior.

Jesus calls us to take our own place at the curb and offer Christ to those who pass by. This is a blessed heritage we have here at Saint Mark. So stand proud on Sunday! Let the world see that Christ’s love is available to everyone. Offer everyone you meet the love of Jesus. Do your best to make Him proud of your willingness to love those for whom he died. It is His Pride we are working for brothers and sisters. And that is Pride indeed.



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