Church Works With Student Groups To Host Pride Service

Church Works With Student Groups To Host Pride Service

Can I get an “Amen” up in here

Last Sunday, St. Paul’s Cathedral hosted a “queer-affirming reflective service” alongside Dunedin Pride, the Student Christian Movement and representatives from St. Hilda’s Collegiate School. This is believed to be the first service of its kind in Dunedin.

Richie, from the Student Christian Movement (SCM), told Critic Te Arohi that “there is a real hunger for spirituality among the queer community,” but that “churches have historically not been a safe or welcoming space [for them].” 

Father Tony Curtis, the Dean of Dunedin, told Critic Te Arohi that “the voices that want to exclude people are often the loudest ones,” which often leads to queer Christians being unsure “whether they’ll be welcomed with open arms or treated with prejudice”. For him, the solution was straightforward: “It’s impossible to proclaim a gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation if we’re not willing to apologise, repent and ask forgiveness for where we’ve got things wrong, and build something more hopeful.”

Tony opened the service by telling attendees to “relax,” reassuring them that “this is your space,” before congratulating anyone who came “dressed more flamboyantly than me”. Around 40 people were there in person, ranging from high schoolers to elderly people, who Tony said have “lived in Dunedin 50 or 60 years, and have longed to come to a service like this”. Over 100 more were viewing the YouTube live stream. 

In between Bible readings which emphasised how God made everyone uniquely, and the importance of loving each other “since God loved us so much,” Tony spoke about how “faith has encouraged, but also destroyed, because we are often incapable of following where Christ leads”. 

Rachel, from SCM, spoke about how it seemed a bit “novel being queer and Christian,” saying they were often “quiet, low-profile, underground… The Church never had a good track record of keeping us safe”. She told the congregation to “reject the messages that say we should be afraid, or ashamed, or punished, or excluded,” saying: “Those messages are not from God.” The service closed with a hymn calling attendees to “build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live… [where] the love of Christ shall end divisions.”

Another student said the service was an “emotional release” for him. He said the Anglican churches he’d attended had always been “affirming” to LGBTQ+ members, but this was the first time a church was so “upfront” about it. 

This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2022.
Posted 5:46pm Friday 1st April 2022 by Denzel Chung.