Love over hate
Uniting Church members celebrated World Pride joining thousands of others in Sydney's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.
March 1, 2023
By Warren Talbot
Uniting Church members celebrated World Pride on Saturday 25 February, joining thousands of others in Sydney's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. It was a joyful celebration despite acts of vandalism which took place that day.
“"It was a sacred, joyful, evangelical experience for us all."
Rev Radhika Sukumar-White, Minister and Team leader at Leichhardt Uniting Church, joined the parade.
"Leichhardt Uniting Church (LUC) has marched and drummed in Mardi Gras for a few years now, and it is an honour as Minister of this church to march and drum alongside members. For many participants, this is their first time marching as an LGBTIQA+ person, and that too with a faith group," Rev Sukumar-White said.
"It was a sacred, joyful, evangelical experience for us all, and was particularly special for us to join forces with Christians of other denominations this year. Spectators express such gratitude at seeing us - it's a beautiful thing."
The ecumenical group Rainbow Christians Together gathered at Pitt Street Uniting Church prior to the parade for prayers and blessings led by Pitt Street's Minister, Rev Dr Josephine Inkpin. Dr Inkpin said that "the ecumenical Rainbow Christians Together float was a demonstration by queer Christians that God welcomed all of God's people, expressing hope and justice for LGBTIQA+ people."
Earlier on the day, the Pitt Street church building was vandalised with grey paint thrown on the church steps which had been painted in rainbow colours to celebrate World Pride. Church volunteers worked on the Saturday evening and Sunday to remove the grey paint and repaint the steps. The same vandalism was repeated in the early hours of Wednesday 1 March, and the NSW Police are investigating. Church volunteers were also subjected to verbal abuse. An earlier act of vandalism took place at Roseville Uniting Church in Sydney's north.
Uniting Church Assembly President Rev Sharon Hollis condemned these acts of vandalism, abuse and intimidation directed towards LGBTIQA+ people of faith.
"Hate is never acceptable. A place of worship is a sacred space where all people should feel welcome and safe. I stand against these act of vandalism and verbal attacks on Church members. We send out prayers and solidarity to Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney and to all LGBTIQA+ people of faith and their allies."
NSW/ACT Moderator Rev Simon Hansford also sent a message of support.
"My first hope is that everyone is safe. I then express my anger at the attack on your Church and, clearly, what you are saying about human worth as a reflection of the Gospel. Please convey my blessings and prayers to everyone."
Chairperson of the Pitt Street Church Council, Robyn Floyd, filmed on social media while re-painting the Pitt Street steps, said that the "fundamental message of the Gospel is that all people are created and loved by God. "
Ms Floyd said that Pitt Street Uniting Church had welcomed LGBTIQA+ people for many years and that "we will continue to proclaim the message of God's love and hospitality."
Dr Inkpin said that the vandalism of the Pitt Street rainbow steps on Mardi Gras Saturday was very sad and challenging at the same time. "This is a graphic reminder that all of us in the Uniting Church need to step up our efforts to stand in solidarity with LGBTIQA+ communities. If we don't, who will?"