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Spokane’s interfaith community embraces Pride with unity and apologies

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Spokane’s interfaith community embraces Pride with unity and apologies

By Mary Feusner | FāVS News

An interfaith Pride service, “Never Gonna Hide, Let Our Light Shine”  was held at the Spokane Public Library Tuesday night. 

According to Dean Heather VanDeventer of The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, the event was led by a collaborative group of inclusive religious groups in the greater Spokane area. 

In attendance were members from The Cathedral of St. John’s, St. Clare Ecumenical Catholic Church, Spokane Buddhist Temple, Temple Beth Shalom, Sravasti Abbey and North Hill Christian Church and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), among others.

Finding hope

Jacob Schwartz, a volunteer coordinator for Spokane Pride, said growing up religious he never considered the opportunity that he may be religious and fully out, adding that the interfaith service is encouraging and hopeful. 

This is the first year that Spokane Pride has recognized the interfaith’s Pride service in their official calendar. 

Vandeventer said, “For me I take that as a sign of trust, for the religious community, that those of us who gather here for the interfaith Pride service have been trustworthy in ways of being allies for the community.”

She opened the service with an apology to all who may have been hurt by religious traditions in the past. 

“I am sorry for those who have used the Bible as a weapon against you, for those who have misused other sacred scripture, as well, as weapons,” VanDeventer said.  

Diverse faiths, universal love

Faith leaders from a multitude of religious practices were given the opportunity to share words about the theme of the event. 

Craig Abbs, member of St. Clare Ecumenical Catholic Community, shared that in his exploration of what faith means to him, he found that it is a personal expression of who he is and his relationship with God. 

“My faith is not meant to control you or tell you what you are supposed to believe or how you are supposed to act. My faith is a guide to tell me how I should love,” Abbs said. 

Ven. Thubten Ngawang, a monk from Sravasti Abbey, asked audience members to take a moment to lower their eyes and imagine never getting angry or having thoughts of frustration, resentment, greed or selfishness. 

Ngawang asked the audience how they might move through the world; to imagine the peace and happiness having an open mind and heart may allow. 

Gabriela Marquis, lay leader at the Temple Beth Shalom, brought to the audience’s attention the ways in which God is referred as male, female and non-gendered within the Torah. 

According to Marquis, the name most commonly used for God is the one that he gave himself. It is a tetragram of four Hebrew letters that is unpronounceable. It is often described as the sound of breath or wind. 

“When Moses first asked for God’s name, God’s response was simple ‘אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה‎‎’ ‘ I am who I am’, and I think what is more of a non binary response than that,” said Marquis. 

Let your light shine

Vandeventer shared a special message for queer youth as the mother of two queer children. 

Audience members were invited to walk to the front of the room and receive a candle, while singing “This Little Light of Mine.” 

The Rev. Christopher Snow, of North Hill Christian Church, explained the symbolism behind handing out candles: For LGBTQ+ individuals, it signified not hiding one’s true self and light. For allies, it meant openly embracing their role as supportive allies and making clear they provide a safe, welcoming presence.

The Rev. Paul Allen, regional minister of the Northern Lights Region at Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), closed the service with an invitation of blessing and communion to all. 

“In our denomination when we say all, all means all,” Allen said. 

Savoring unity

A social gathering with refreshments and desserts followed the service, where people were allowed to get to know one another and celebrate in solidarity. 

“Interfaith services for Pride are always complicated in that we have to simultaneously hold the sorrow of the harm that religious communities have done while also getting to celebrate the unity of queer identity and religious expression of different kinds,” said the Rev. Megan Madison of Covenant United Methodist. “I thought this service did a really good job of holding those intentions.”

Mary Feusner
Mary Feusner
Mary Feusner is a senior at Washington State University, pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism. Her passion for history and religions, which began when she was a child, along with a class taught by Tracy Simmons at WSU, led to her initial interest in religion journalism. Beyond writing, Mary has a love for reading and collecting fiction novels. She currently serves as a student ambassador for the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at WSU. She is eager to gain experience in journalism and make meaningful contributions to the field. She is excited for the opportunity to learn from the dedicated journalists at FāVS News.

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