Sarah Brewerton writes ...
We were delighted to have our ecumenical presence "Christians Walking with Pride" again on the Parade this year - it's vitally important that we give an alternative message to the fundamentalist Christian opposition who stand with loudhailers and banners.
We were joined again by our friends from Liberty Church in Blackpool. This time they brought with them "Big Jesus" - a 4 metre high figure made by Nikki, their evangelist, who made his debut at Blackpool Pride in June, then travelled to Liverpool Pride, then to Manchester!
We couldn't wait to see the reaction of the crowds, but none of us were prepared for the impact Big Jesus made. All along the Parade route, people were shouting his name, calling him over, reaching up to him, wanting to touch him and have photos taken with him …….maybe wanting to re-connect with a faith that they had lost, or from which they felt excluded : heart-stopping, heart-warming, heart-wrenching moments for us.
Paul from Liberty Church who was "inside" Big Jesus, said "We had a unique perspective on Jesus - His fame and renown. If the crowd was silenced, even the rocks and stones would have cried out to Jesus. This must be what it was like for Him to enter Jerusalem, re-enacted for the benefit of his LGBT people. What does this say for us and for Him."
What the Christian “opposition” thought I can’t imagine! I almost felt sorry for them; they looked so miserable, holding their banners with texts (from the King James version of the Bible) that probably conveyed little or no meaning to the crowd anyway.
As we approached their presence, there were huge roars of welcome and support from the crowd who stood in front of them. Big Jesus stopped, waved and blew kisses at the crowd and the fundamentalists, inspiring us to do the same. A young man beckoned me over and hugging me over said "Thank you for doing what you are doing."
I had totally forgotten that each Parade entry is judged … so imagine my astonishment when I got a phone call the following day, telling me that we had won the Best Community Entry and we were invited in two hours time to go to receive the award! After some hurried arrangements, Steve (from St Clement's) and I went into Manchester, and up on the stage (both of us well out of our comfort zones!) to face the crowds again. We were applauded and welcomed and handed the "trophy". This in itself looks a bit strange - a Rubik's Cube, sprayed gold and mounted on a wooden base!
But no matter; we felt and still feel overwhelmed to have been chosen to receive it - an award given to Christians by a community of people, many of whom have been hurt and excluded by the church.
new page 26 August 2013