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Politics impact pride parade participation

St. Albert United Church marches for the first time Saturday

By: By Megan Sarrazin

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 06:00 am

PRIDE SUPPORT  - Supporters from the St. Albert United Church march in the Edmonton pride parade to show their support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community last Saturday. It was the first time the church has participated in the parade.
PRIDE SUPPORT - Supporters from the St. Albert United Church march in the Edmonton pride parade to show their support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community last Saturday. It was the first time the church has participated in the parade.
APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette

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Alberta’s changed political tone attracted the St. Albert United Church to participate for the first time in Edmonton’s pride parade over the weekend.

Rev. James Ravenscroft said the recent provincial election is likely the reason the congregation embraced his suggestion to take part.

“We’re a very astute, connected, well-read congregation. We know what’s going on and we recognize that in this province, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are still under a lot of pressure,” he said.

During the recent election campaign, controversial comments were made regarding the LGBT community, prompting discussion amongst congregation members, he said.

Ravenscroft noted another hot-button issue was, up until recently, the government’s delisting of gender reassignment surgery.

“We believe, at St. Albert United, that we need to be affirming of all people, including people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered,” he said. “We just thought it would be important to support the LGBT community.”

Premier Alison Redford also supported the LGBT community by attending the parade. This made her the first sitting premier to attend such an event.

“Let’s just celebrate who we are, what we do and where we live,” she said to the thousands of marchers filling Churchill Square after the parade. “I think that we’re a very different province than we were many years ago and I’m very proud of that.”

Ravenscroft said Redford’s presence was welcome at the celebration.

“It was making a really supportive stand across the province, especially given that our last two premiers have been less supportive, shall we say,” he said.

He has been with the St. Albert United Church for three years, and said he has marched in the parade for a number of years on his own.

For the congregation’s first year at the parade, a total of 10 marchers took part.

“I was tickled that we had 10 for the very, very first year of marching and I’m sure that we’ll get more in our next years of marching,” he said.

Although many more churchgoers did not attend the parade, Ravenscroft said they very much supported the church’s presence.

The St. Albert United Church was the only church from St. Albert to take part in the parade. A total of nine United Churches marched in the parade.

“There’s lots of support for the LGBT community within some sections of Christianity,” he said, adding his church has been celebrating same-sex marriages for a number of years.

The June 9 parade was part of the Edmonton Pride Festival, which runs until June 17. For more information about the festival, visit www.edmontonpride.ca.


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