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faith & spirituality | gender & sexuality

University Park UMC hosts second annual North Portland Pride Festival

The small, neighborhood-based congregation is a longtime supporter of the rights of the LGBTQ community. Below are photos from yesterday's gathering, and an except of Rev. Jeanne Knepper's sermon. [ Photos from last year's festival | Rev. Jeanne's Pridefest Sermon | UP-UMC's website ]
Welcome To All
Welcome To All
Rev. Jeanne Knepper greets the group
Rev. Jeanne Knepper greets the group
Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams
Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams
"Sneakin' Out" performs an awesome set
S01_ElectricUkelele!
S01_ElectricUkelele!
S02_guitar
S02_guitar
S03_Drums&Bells
S03_Drums&Bells
Gathered under the bell tower
Gathered under the bell tower
UP-UMC welcome committee!
UP-UMC welcome committee!
Excerpt from Rev. Jeanne's Pridefest Sermon

Some of you may know that I worshipped at St. Paul's United Methodist Church for nearly a decade while I lived in Denver Colorado. While I was there, I got to know Julian Rush, the author of the hymn we just sang. Julian wrote these words in 1985; our small choir may have been the first people to sing them. Did you notice, as we sang the words together, that they seemed very familiar? If you were to take your copy of The Faith We Sing and turn to number 2238, you would find almost the same song, called "In the Midst of New Dimensions."

Well what, you might wonder, would be worth photocopying a song so similar to the one we already have in a hymnal? To answer that, we'd have to examine the words together. First off, you might notice that the original version had six verses, not five. Verses 3 and 4 of the original sing out, Through the years of human struggle, walk a people long despised,
Gays and lesbians together fighting to be realized.

We are Black and we are Asian, Indian, Hispanic, White
We a rainbow coalition, all of value in thy sight.

These verses have been replaced, in the version canonized in a United Methodist hymnal, with one verse:
As we stand a world divided by our own self-seeking schemes,
grant that we, your global village, might envision wider dreams.

Do you hear what has been left out of the approved version? All of the specificity, all of the color of our lives and experiences! It becomes, in a way, a black-and-white photograph of a rainbow, a sad and puny substitute for the awesome color and beauty of God's many and varied creation. And it suggests, in the language, that naming all of our wonderful particularity is, or could be, part of "our own self-seeking schemes." Oh, how sad, how very sad.

Read the full sermon