By Deb Tickell, Lay Missioner for Emmaus Episcopal Church
“We need a visible group. In such a group I could meet people, people like me, older people especially. And maybe someday I would just bump into them in the grocery store and remember that it is possible to live as an adult, as myself.”
– A High School Student at Emmaus, Surprise, 2016
On Saturday, June 12th, 2016, after engaging in a 13-week study of Gender & Sexuality as it relates to scripture, faith, culture, history, and science; our youth gathered friends, parents, and passersby, hung a pride flag and an Episcopal Church flag side by side in a public park. They grilled hot dogs, played games and engaged in deep conversation. On Sunday, June 13th our youth gathered again to sit in vigil remembering the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting that had occurred while we were gathered in the park. Sitting in grief and fear that evening, our group was comforted by the knowledge that those who had joined us the previous afternoon were out there moving about in our city; beacons of courageous and sustaining light.
As our church and society continue the often-difficult work of honoring the diversity of all human life and respecting the dignity of each and every human being, I am reminded of the often life-saving simplicity of this student’s request. Be visible with me, be vulnerable with me, so that in my time of need I might remember that I am not alone.
I am honored to submit this reflection today and to invite each of our congregations to help in growing a diocesan-wide witness to the wide and inclusive nature of God’s love at the Phoenix Pride Parade to be held this year on November 6, 2021. A small group of diocesan leaders has been working to create a few simple ways for your congregation to quite literally, walk alongside our LGBTQIA+ siblings. Whether you have one volunteer or 100, your congregation’s visible support is important and appreciated. Please complete this short interest list form by September 30th so that a member of the committee can reach out and help your congregation get started.
With gratitude for Bishop Reddall’s leadership and commitment to this growing witness, to our planning committee for their time and energy, and to all who will come alongside and celebrate with us on November 6, 2021.