Love was LOUD in Cleveland for the June 1 Pride parade

Blue skies, sunshine, smiling faces, hugs, music floating through the air, Pride flags waving, babies in rainbow gear, dogs in tutus — the Pride Cleveland march had it all. The United Church of Christ gathered to celebrate as part of the Love is Louder campaign for the first weekend of Pride month, with 16 Ohio UCC churches participating and walking along the route, chanting “Love is louder.”

Sponsored by the UCC Gender & Sexuality Justice Ministries, the Heartland Conference and Living Water Association, the UCC gathering showed that saying “yes” to loving louder than hate brings people together and joy to this world. People along the parade route shouted “Happy Pride!” and clapped in encouragement as the parade ambled by.

Heaven on Earth

Rachael Ward, minister and team leader for the UCC’s gender & sexuality justice ministries was responsible for much of the planning, and said the day reminded them of their call to ministry through the embodiment of the Love is Louder celebration. “As we marched, I kept looking in every direction and all I could see was a sea of UCC members chanting, ‘Happy Pride – God loves you – Love is Louder!’ I feel humbled and honored because I got to see heaven on Earth. I feel like I got to see the Gospel jump off the pages of the Bible and into the communities we serve.”

The UCC had a booth on Mall C, where Pride swag and UCC branded merchandise flew out of volunteers’ hands. Ward loved being a part of it all. “At our booth space we had people wanting to find a local church, sharing their gratitude for our large presence, or sharing how the message we were bringing was healing for them.”

The UCC booth on Mall C was staffed by volunteers.
The UCC’s acting Associate General Minister and Co-Executive of Global Ministries Shari Prestamon, Charles Jefferson, Jr., and Rachael Ward celebrate Pride together.
The Pride parade route went right by the United Church of Christ National Setting offices on E. 9th Street.

The event was just one part of the special events scheduled for the first weekend of Pride month. On Sunday evening, fellowship and blessings abounded at Pilgrim Congregational UCC where a special Queer worship “Love Your Neighbor Out LOUD” service was held at 6:30 p.m. This was broadcast live across Zoom so all could participate.

Ward has hope there will be more times like this ahead. “I don’t know if I will ever be able to summarize just how meaningful the showing of love on display by our congregations was, and I am certain that it will not be the last time these congregations gather as one.”

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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