The Light Up the Cathedral Service has its roots in outreach, but it has become a beacon of hope, love, and interfaith inclusivity. This year, you can join the LGBTQ+ community and faith leaders from throughout San Diego on July 13th for Light Up the Cathedral and begin your Pride week in worship and love.
Eight years ago, the newly arrived Dean Penny Bridges had a vision for the Cathedral community that was a unique approach for outreach to the LGBTQ community during Pride week in San Diego. The Pride Parade ends directly across the street from our church, and the two-day festival takes place only two blocks away. Dean Penny believed lighting the Cathedral edifice in rainbow colors would make a statement to the thousands of people who pass by our location during the week. A generous donor caught her vision, and in July 2014, the Cathedral was bathed in rainbow colors, the first Cathedral anywhere in the USA to light up its entire façade for PRIDE. And so it started, with LGBTQ+ community leaders and our congregation attending a blessing service outside in the Queen’s Courtyard.
By the third year, with the rise of the so-called Religious Freedom laws and the rise of Christian nationalism, San Diego Pride and St. Paul’s Cathedral began to identify affirming and inclusive pro-LGBTQ faith leaders to create an interfaith Light Up celebration. It is vital to counter the message of hate and bigotry by uniting affirming and diverse interfaith leaders. The most powerful voices to speak out against religious bigotry are affirming inclusive faith leaders, whose common belief in God’s universal love for all human beings shines a bright light in the darkness.
Now, in the most recent national polling, over 63% of LGBTQ people identify a faith practice. Many LGBTQ people are seeking places of worship that are affirming and inclusive. Light Up the Cathedral For Pride has become a spiritual beacon and an official event of PRIDE. It is a powerful and inspirational celebration of all affirming faiths’ clergy and all the members of the LGBTQ+ community coming together. It is a unique one of its kind celebration in the USA, a partnership between a PRIDE organization and St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. Many civic and elected officials also attend annually.
The LGBTQ+ community has had a difficult and oppressive history with the religious organizations of their youth, resulting in many wounded and hurting souls. Light Up the Cathedral For Pride brings together affirming Christian clergy, rabbis’ priests, universalists, Buddhists, Catholics, Bishop Susan Brown Snook, and many others with the LGBTQ+ community under one roof–singing, praying and worshiping. It is an evening of inspirational music and readings, ending in a procession outside and the blessing of the Lights.
Each year we highlight a ministry or faith organization that has shown exemplary work in and service to the fight for equality and dignity of LGBTQ+ people. This year we will present the “Light of Pride” award to Rev. John Fanestil and his work with the Border Church organization, migrants, and Guillermo Navarrette with the LGBTQ+ shelter in Tijuana, Casa De Luz. The program includes performances by the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, The San Diego Women’s Chorus and The Voices of Our City Choir. Dr. Orlando Espin is our keynote speaker. Please join us on July 13th at 7pm–whoever you are, wherever you are on your journey, you are welcome.
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