It was my first Pride Parade. I joined forty other FUMC parade goers of all ages to give witness to our understanding of the gospel, that everyone is a beloved child of God. Besides being ready for a fun parade, I was especially aware of visibly representing the Church because, for only the second time ever, I was wearing a clerical collar. All along the parade route people waved and cheered. However, as I would make eye contact with people along the route, I could see them look at me and do a double take when they saw my collar. Their faces would light up and their wave turned into reaching out for a high-five as they said “thank you!”
Granted, although I am a celebrity in my own mind, this wasn’t about me. This was about the Church giving the high-five and saying, “God loves you.”
At one point during the parade, a woman jumped up and down and yelled approvingly, “Now, that’s a church!” She was overcome with emotion in that moment. I said, “Well, come give me a hug,” and she ran out from the crowd, jumped, and clinged to me in a standing hug.
There was joy and reconciliation in that hug, a hopeful promise for a future when all God’s children accept and embrace each other.
—Rev. Michael Mumme