South City Church and Friends,
For the past 10 years, a group of folks from South City Church and FirstLight have sponsored an utreach ministry at the annual PrideFest celebration in St. Louis. We have handed out water and heat-relief along the parade route on Sunday afternoons in late June. As you know, it can get really hot in the sun late June in St. Louis, so the water and heat relief are very welcome.
This has always been one of my favorite days of the year! I get to serve people whom I love and I have the opportunity to show the love of Christ to some who have been marginalized and discarded. Some of my favorite moments include the day, 7 years ago, when an openly gay man, well known in the community, helped us hand out water during a downpour. “Free water, compliments of First Light” he told all the passersby. While we had difficulty giving water out that day, he did not.
Then there was the “Christians Against Bullying” theme three years ago. Many people stopped by just to thank us for telling them that they mattered and that the young men who committed suicide the previous Fall, whom we acknowledged with tombstones, also mattered to us. One young man in particular, broke down in tears as he stared down at the picture of one of the suicide “victims” we acknowledge. He had written about this in a school project.
In the past, this event has been at Tower Grove Park on South Grand. Last year, it was moved to Soldier’s Memorial downtown. We didn’t hand out any water last year because we weren’t sure how about the parade route. But we still went down and ministered to the men and women in the crowd. We did so by putting tape over our mouths that read “Here 2 Listen”, while walking in front of a crowd who had gathered to mock at and yell at a group of protestors from a local church. I was able to make connections with some of the Pride Fest celebrators even though I was not talking.
So, this year we are going downtown to hand out water and to show the love of Jesus to the crowd!! The crowd last year was large! So the water need is also large. This year, we are asking our friends to help by donating water for the event. To do so, please contact Chris Gillam at [email protected] or call her at 314-604-1295 or talk to me after church on Sunday.
If you think you might be interested in helping out that Sunday afternoon, we could definitely use your hands and feet, and covered mouths, if that’s your preference! I do want to acknowledge that this is not an easy thing to do. You may feel uncomfortable with some of the things you might see. That’s OK. If you have questions about it, please come talk to me, call me or email me at the number or address above. If you’re sure and are ready to volunteer, come talk to me, call me or email me and I will let you know what to expect and where to be. The parade starts at noon, June 29, and will end shortly after 1PM, that’s when the fun begins!!