Monday, March 20, 2023

InterFaith Celebration Uplifts Community Ahead of PrideFest

A diverse and joyful group of worshippers from across Hampton Roads packed the sanctuary of Norfolk’s New Life Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) last night to celebrate the Sixth LGBTQAI Interfaith Celebration during PrideFest week.

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The service was led by Rev. Mark Byrd of New Life MCC and featured a mix of music, memories, video, fellowship and participation fostered a warm sense of community among a group representing every color in the Pride rainbow and faiths.

Following Rev. Byrd’s words of welcome, Rev. Christopher Winstead opened the service by asking attendees to meditate and reflect on the occasion.  James Hermansen-Parker, Susan Pederson and Rev. Jim Whalen reminded attendees of our history and past struggles and event and invited participants to add a paint brushstroke to honor someone living or dead one of two canvasses placed on the walls of the sanctuary.

Lucas Poe, a transgender student from Virginia Beach, performed “Wake Up” on his acoustic guitar.  This was followed by “What Is Love”, a video montage produced by Toni Ryan, featuring faith leaders in the community.

In the spirit of fellowship, Rev. Dr. Joy Carrington, Dorothy Edwards and Tammy Williams led a session of “Speed Connecting” to encourage attendees to get to know one another and discuss how faith impacted their views on love and acceptance.  Rev. Alberto Najera sang “Who Would Jesus Love”, a song by Ray Boltz, a contemporary Christian music artist who came out as a gay in 2008.

Teresa Stanley gave brief remarks to promote “Standing With Our Neighbors”, a project that places signs in public places with the message “No matter where you are from, we’re glad that you’re our neighbor” that is translated into six languages.  The two-sided signs are available free of charge to those that can exhibit in a public place.  If you would like one for your home, you may purchase a sign from New Life MCC for $15.  She also reminded attendees of two demonstrations taking place Saturday to highlight the immigrant crisis at our Southern border.

The service closed on a high note as the upilfting song “This Is Me” from the film “The Greatest Showman”, featuring Keala Settle was shown and attendees clapped, sang and danced.  Many stayed after the service for refreshments and to socialize.

The Sixth Annual LGBTQAI Interfaith Celebration was a collaborative effort of the Hampton Roads LGBTQAI Interfaith Group comprised of the following houses of worship:

  • All God’s Children Community Church, Norfolk
  • Coastal Virginia Universalist Unitarian Church, (Norfolk UUC)
  • Interspiritual Empowerment Project
  • Lynnhaven Colony Congregational UCC, Virginia Beach
  • New Life Metropolitan Community Church of Hampton Roads,
  • Pagans of Hampton Roads
  • Saint Andrews Episcopal Church, Norfolk
  • The Great Awakenings UCC, Portsmouth
  • Warwick UCC, Hampton

[Commentary] Pride is a Time to Connect as a Community


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