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Latham: Embracing others feels better than turning them away

DENVER, Colo. — I came here thinking it was Pride Weekend, as it was in much of the rest of the country, only to find out this city’s pride activities were taking place next weekend.

If you didn’t know it, this is “Pride” month, as in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and maybe some other designations that don’t come to mind at the moment.

That’s also “pride” as opposed to shame, which is what so much of the rest of the world wants them to feel. I’m not sure many people would give a hang about who others have sex with if they just – pretty please – pretend that it is someone of the opposite gender.

Even if the official Pride Weekend is still to come and not already done, there were plenty of activities in that regard taking place, including a semi-annual art fair that stretched for blocks, replete with gay pride flags, shirts and all manner of rainbows.

If there were any protesters upset about those activities I did not see or hear them. No one challenged anyone’s right to be there or to be showing affection. Yes, right out in public in front of God and everybody.

Of course, I didn’t really go to Denver for the Pride celebration but to visit a stepdaughter who, just to ease everyone’s palpitating heart, is not “one of those people,” either. She also is not one who fears same-sex persons. People are just people to her. Wish it could be the same for everybody.

But it is not to be. At least not now.

After all the festivities Saturday, I went to church Sunday at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in a suburb of Denver.

It’s a big church just outside an upscale Denver subdivision. I’m not sure all the congregation comes from that neighborhood but I’m sure most of them do. There are three services every Sunday morning and about 500 congregants showed up at the one I attended.

As with just about every church in the United States, almost all those in attendance were of the same race (in this case, white), though it was clear that everyone would have been welcome.

As with many Methodist churches — even in East Texas — ministers were both male and female.

Also as with most churches of whatever denomination, good works were much in evidence. At one table, eight members were busy after the service assembling peanut butter and jam sandwiches and putting them in bags for the poor.

During the service, one of the ministers announced the church would be helping feed and house asylum-seekers being shipped to the Denver area by the Trump administration.

I heard no one groan in dismay, even though the congregation was told the project would likely last for years because that is the pace at which the government moves. I’m sure by the end of the day Sunday there were numerous volunteers to help.

There’s one other thing about the church. It is what’s known among Methodists as a “Reconciling Congregation.” That means it supports inclusion for the LGBTQ community in all facets of what the church does, including marriage and ordination.

It isn’t the only Denver-area congregation that supports that view.

I’m not here and wasn’t there to tell anyone what to do or feel. All I know is that embracing others feels so much better than turning them away.

— Phil Latham is editor emeritus of the News-Journal. His column appears Wednesday. Email platham@news-journal.com

Today's Bible verse

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

Revelation 3:17

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