It is amazing and wonderful that our church is recognised and valued as part of the Pride activities that go on each year. It is a real chance for us to embody God’s love for all people and to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. There is an old saying ‘People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.’ How we conduct ourselves at Pride and in our community generally, tells people all they need to know about the Gospel we say we believe in. Many in our community have no experience of being involved in a faith community at all. Church and all it stands for is irrelevant to them. Others have been hurt and harmed by previous experiences of religion. They may be hostile towards us, or may need to be offered another chance to re-connect with the God that they once felt so close to. Whatever the attitude is towards whom we are, we are present at Pride to love and to serve, offering hope and light.
I calculate that we get one person per year who starts attending church regularly as a result of our presence at Pride. Some people will come up to me and say ‘It is my *th anniversary this Pride, since I started attending MCC.’ I know that for some people, this may seem disappointing. Folk hope that having given out hundreds (literally) of badges and postcards, we will be swamped with new people at worship. This is not my expectation. God asks us to plant the seeds of hope and light in people’s hearts. It is God’s job to help them grow. We may never see the person who starts praying again, because they now have the courage to do so. We may never see the person who finally forgives and lets go of the hurt that they have been carrying towards Jesus, for the things done in his name. We may never see the Holy Spirit dancing through the crowds that line the streets to watch the march. But someone will see us, our banners and our T-shirts and know, deep down, that God loves them. These are the miracles that take place at Pride, because we are faithful to our call to serve our community.