PrideFest events connect spiritual communities

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“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” The African-American spiritual could be the anthem of the religious services taking place at PrideFest.

Our community will gather to let our light shine at the Friday evening interfaith prayer service, 6:30 p.m. on the Stonewall Stage, and also at the celebration of relationships at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday on the Stonewall Stage.

The Friday evening interfaith prayer service kicks off the PrideFest weekend, with more than a dozen clergy taking part in the service.

A large interfaith choir provides great music. The clergy and choir alone testify to the vibrancy and diversity of LGBT-inclusive congregations.

The Rev. Jamie Washam will preach. Her sermons at Underwood Memorial Baptist Church always inspire because of their combination of impassioned Baptist style and great progressive content.

Whether you have a faith community or just have faith questions, the interfaith prayer service will fill you with pride.

Later in the weekend, clergy will gather on the Stonewall stage for a “Celebration of Our Relationships.”

More than a marriage ceremony, the celebration allows couples the opportunity to bless their relationships at any stage of commitment.

The service also provides a public witness of the vitality and validity of same-sex relationships. (Clergy will also be available throughout the weekend for couples who wish to solemnize their relationship privately).

Jeffrey Montoya, Pride-Fest’s religious director, knows the value that interfaith prayer opportunities represent. Raised Roman Catholic, Jeffrey served for several years in Catholic settings, including as chaplain at Cardinal Stritch University. Conservative Catholics targeted Montoya for ridicule and abuse on blogs and other avenues because he’s openly gay. Montoya left the Roman Catholic Church in frustration.

An exploration of various churches began for Montoya at a PrideFest interfaith service.

The list of churches involved became his “shopping list.” The Universal Anglican Church was one of the congregations listed. The Anglican worship felt close to a mass but the Universal Anglicans unabashedly accept and honor LGBT people.

The Universal Anglicans formed in 2005 as a liberal breakaway movement from the Episcopal Church. At its core, the movement commits to non-discrimination in the administration of the sacraments. At first the adjective “universal” started as a synonym for Catholic. But it evolved into an affirmation of universal salvation, that is, that all will be saved.

The Milwaukee congregation of Universal Anglicans went through a period of transition earlier this year but will resume worship this month on Sundays at the Marion Center for Non-Profits in Milwaukee.

On June 5, they will inaugurate a new style of worship called a “Christ and Light” gathering for people who want spirituality but not all the “churchy stuff.” Montoya intends the gatherings to offer “spiritual tools to transform life and the world.”

A more traditional mass service begins on June 19 in the Marion Center Chapel at 9:30 a.m.

PrideFest’s religious services offer a chance to find and share the spiritual light in our community. These services may lead to involvement in a church community, as they did for Jeffrey Montoya. Or they may simply be an occasion to thank God for the diversity and energy in our LGBT religious community. Come to the Stonewall Stage over PrideFest weekend to let your spiritual light shine.

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