by Venerable Thubten Chonyi
The Spokane Interfaith Council, along with OutSpokane, invited the Abbey to take part in an interfaith worship service during the city’s 25th annual LGBTQ+ PRIDE Week. The organizers wanted to be as inclusive of all faith traditions possible, and said, “The next generation of LGBTQ+ folks need to see us united, so that they can feel safe.”
I joined with clergy from five additional traditions—United Church of Christ, Jewish, New Thought, Unity, and Disciples of Christ—to create a service to include all faiths as well as to affirm a spiritual refuge for people who may be barred from participating in other religious services.
I appreciated the openness and harmony in the planning group as we re-fashioned a borrowed, heavily Christian, Pride interfaith liturgy into an inclusive profession of shared values. When the group reviewed the new text together, one pastor wrote, “Several of us had tears in our eyes and the hairs on our neck stood up in awe. It really was a spiritual moment. What binds us together is love and compassion for the youth, and that love transcends our particular belief systems.”
More than 100 people of all ages—children to senior citizens—attended the service. Following the Pride week theme, “From Silence to Celebration,” the service used song, recitation, personal sharing, and a little old-fashioned preaching to remember those who have suffered and to invoke the values of love, kindness, compassion, wisdom, and inclusiveness. Several speakers particularly noted the present danger for transgendered people. Participants behind the podium and in the audience were visibly moved. As the service ended, a rainbow appeared in the sky over Spokane.