Norwich Pride march divides church opinion
The staging of the Norwich Pride march on July 26 has divided opinion in the Norwich Christian community. While many churches are not comfortable with the event, a handful are more supportive. Keith Morris reports.
The Quakers, Unitarians and some Anglican clergy will be joining the march, while other churche, will be watching and offering words of reconciliation. At the same time, others are more strongly opposed.
Norwich Pride is run by the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) community and includes a city centre march on Saturday July 26.
Jo Smith, a Quaker who represents faith groups at Norwich Pride, said: “Quakers and Unitarians along with members of other faith and spiritual groups will be attending the parade and invite everyone to join us. This includes those with faith or without, gay or straight, and their friends and families.
“We invite those from churches or religious organisations which recognise and support their gay members to bring a banner with the name of their church on it. Gay people from faith backgrounds which condemn LGBT people will find a warm welcome with us and an opportunity to be proud of who we are.”
Rev Mark Taylor, from Carleton Rode Baptist Church, one of a number of church leaders who are not supportive of the march, said: “I feel saddened when humans flout the laws of God; we all do it in many avenues of life and faith - the Bible calls it sin, and it is sin Jesus came to deal with, and remove the separation it brings between God and Humanity. We are called to strive for higher moral and spiritual principles, seeking to become more and more like Jesus.
“By seeking to lower society's standards, and even worse the standards of our faith, we seek to make the unacceptable more palatable. I do not think the homosexual lifestyle is compatible with Christian living, but let’s seek to rectify the problems of broken living rather than flaunt it in the streets.
Duane Elkins, leader of New Hope Christian Centre, said: “Looking back at my time around the Forum during the Pride march two years ago, Jesus' words about the crowds - that they were like sheep without a shepherd - come to mind. What have we come to in society when we push to be identified by our sexual preference than to anything else? But what worries me as the Bible says in 1 Peter 5:5 that, ‘GOD opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’. When people are proud and celebrate what the Bible condemns, what hope is there?
“Norwich City Council wave the LGBT banner and aligns itself with such behaviour, but rejects the opportunity for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Society to show videos of people who came to faith in Jesus Christ. How is the promotion of one without tolerance of the other good for the city?”
On the other side of the debate, Rev Philip Young, Norwich Anglican minister, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans, said: “I have been a supporter of Norwich Pride for a number of years now. I am for an inclusive Christian community which embraces people of all persuasions, which includes the LGBT community. God's love embraces all and he loves us all. To exclude homosexual, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual people from the Christian community is in my view just as bad as excluding people on grounds of racial difference.
“We are all God's children and all part of the family of God. I will yet again this year be supporting the colour and diversity of Norwich Pride, which, I believe, enriches the Norwich community with its colourful presence and challenges the community here to be an inclusive and welcoming one. Well done Norwich Pride and keep bringing colour to the streets of Norwich.”
Pictured above is Rev Philip Young at Norwich Pride in 2010.