Saturday, June 16, 2007

Large contingent of churches joins Pride celebration

Friday, June 15, 2007
Washington Blade

Surging crowds lining the parade route added to the enthusiasm of this year’s 32nd annual Pride festivities as thousands turned out for last weekend’s Capital Pride parade and festival.

Similar to past years, colorful floats, a gay marching band and members of dozens of gay social, political, sports and faith-based groups walked or rode along the parade route, which began on P Street, N.W., near Dupont Circle, and wound its way through gay neighborhoods before ending at Thomas Circle.

But in what organizers said appeared to be a new trend, a considerably larger contingent of mainline city churches and religious groups joined the parade this year, and thousands more spectators — both gay and straight — lined the streets to watch the parade. Many cheered, waved and snapped pictures with their digital cameras as the contingents moved past them.

Leading the religious contingent was Right Rev. John B. Chane, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, who rode in an open car. Official contingents of at least four of the city’s largest Episcopal parishes joined Chane in the parade, including one from the Washington National Cathedral, over which Chane presides, according to church spokesperson Jim Naughton.

"For us, we felt we should not be timid after what our church has been through recently," Naught[on] said.

He was referring to the heated controversy and possible church schism surrounding the ordination of gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and the decision by a number of conservative Episcopal parishes to break away from the official church leadership over the gay clergy issue.

Naught[on] said Chane and the gay and straight parishioners joining him in the city’s June 9 Gay Pride parade believe they were carrying our the best tradition of their faith.

"In a way, this is evangelism at its best,” he said. “You reach out to new audiences. Churches have to make themselves visible to the community."

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