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Capital Pride’s Inter Faith Service Showered with Stoles

July 6, 2017

Pride interfaith SOSP

On June 6th, for the 34th year in a row, D.C.’s Capital Pride held its annual interfaith service. People from all faith backgrounds packed into Calvary Baptist Church to pray, love, support, heal, and gather together. The theme of this years’ service was “Reveal! Respect! Resist!” which was demonstrated and reflected by how attendees from all backgrounds came together for equality and justice.

The service was an auditory and visually striking night starting from the entrance. As people entered the sanctuary they were greeted with signs in English and Spanish declaring “Our Faith Doesn’t Discriminate.” Looking straight ahead into the sanctuary was a beautiful wooden alter with red, orange, and yellow paper birds hanging from a wooden overhang. Under the colorful birds, hung dozens of handmade stoles of all different fabrics, colors, and textures.

The stoles in display are a part of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s “Shower of Stoles Project.” The project is a collection of over 1,200 liturgical stoles and other sacred hems representing the lives of LGBTQ people of faith. Martha Juillerat, a Presbyterian minister in Missouri, and her partner, also a minister, started the collection in 1995. Since then, faith leaders from 32 denominations and faith traditions,  6 countries, and 3 continents have donated stoles. Each stole contains the story of the LGBTQ faith leader who donated the stole, often times it is the story of a leader who has been subject to unjust policies, defrocked and/or excluded from service because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Pride interfaith 2

As the service started women played drums, piano, organ, and bells. The choir sang as leaders from many faith traditions proceeded into the sanctuary. It was a beautiful symbol of the respect and unity the faith traditions shared and their shared vision of resisting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and injustice. Religious leaders from the D.C. community shared prayers, songs or other words from their faith tradition all with the theme of “Reveal! Respect! Resist!”

After the service many people came up to the stoles to get a closer look and to read the stories. I had the opportunity to speak with a woman who had donated a stole years ago. I also spoke with people who were struck and affected by the stories they read on the stoles. It was a beautiful opportunity to watch and be a part of the community joining together.

Learn more about the Shower of Stoles Project, donate a stole, and request an exhibit at: http://welcomingresources.org/sosp

 

By Camden Hargrove, field organizer, National LGBTQ Task Force

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