The sky shone bright blue and the air was gusty, yet cool, as the marchers stepped off for the annual Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26th 2016.

Dwayne Purrington

The Saint Mark's contingent was joined by members from St. Clements, St. John’s the Evangelist, St. John’s (Linden Hills)and St. Mary’s. The mood of the 80+ marchers and the throngs lining the sidewalk was more resolute this year, perhaps because of the horrific tragedy at Orlando’s gay night club. But the resolve was evident-- to not let the heartbreaking events define us, but to continue to show love and acceptance of all.

Previously, on Friday evening a six member panel deliberated in front of an overflow crowd how the issues of race, sexual orientation, and religion could intersect in our modern pluralistic society. Panelists, Father John Rettger, Broderick Greer(see below), The Rev Craig Lemming, Episcopal Transitional Deacon, Caitlin Knight, non binary bisexual , Peter Murray, Outfront MN Faith coordinator, Dena Denny, Humanist, with MA in Divinity, presented their ideas to a capacity crowd of 100+, moderated by Emmy Kegler, Pastor at Grace Lutheran in NE Minneapolis.

Loring Park was buzzing with activity on Saturday as the festival grounds was filled with vendors, interest groups, and activists of all persuasions. The Saint Mark's booth was especially colorful this year due to the life size drawings of famous Episcopalians by character artist, Peter Krueger. Attendees were asked to pose with the characters in a contest where the best photo was awarded a monetary prize. ( I phones and instagram were essential parts of this contest.) The benefit to Saint Mark's was the large number of email addresses that were gathered for future contact. In addition, volunteers in the booth passed out 5000 much needed fans that advertised all the affirming Episcopal churches in the area as well as the Twin City Pride Service at 4:00 on Sunday.

Usually, audible “AMEN’s” and standing ovations are not part of the Sunday worship at Saint Mark's. Well, they happened at the Twin City Pride Service. The Reverend Broderick Greer, curate at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Memphis Tennessee, held the congregation spellbound. “I don’t never get used to it”—A phrase never to be forgotten by the congregation present. The offering gathered at the service was divided between Saint Mark's and One Orlando.

Of significant note is the observation that the age of attendees at both the Friday evening panel and the Twin City Pride Service was much younger than previous years. Additionally more than 50% of the congregants were not members of Saint Mark's. This shift may be attributed to the use of social media (many knew of Broderick via Twitter) as well as eye- catching advertising in Lavender and CityPages.

The Pride Committee is particularly grateful to so many. To be thanked are the One Voice Mixed Chorus that performed before the worship service. Also a great thank you to Emmy Kegler, now serving Grace Lutheran Church, who stepped in last fall to help focus, organize and lead the committee to a successful Pride. And most importantly, the many volunteers who gave of their time to make Pride weekend at Saint Mark's a resounding success.