LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Christians Celebrate Pentecost, Inclusivity — With An Extra Sparkle

Through Glitter + Fire, churches made a visual statement in support of the LGBTQ community.

As churches around the world celebrated the Christian holy day of Pentecost last Sunday, at a handful of parishes across the U.S., the service had a little more sparkle than normal. Through an initiative called Glitter + Fire, congregations wishing to make a queer-positive statement were encouraged to add glitter to their celebration as a visual representation of the LGBTQ-affirming nature of their congregation.

The Bible verses associated with Pentecost, which is commonly seen as the day that Christianity as a movement was born, speak of "tongues of fire" descending upon the disciples of Jesus that allowed them to share his teachings in languages they had never spoken before. Reverend Elizabeth Edman, one of the organizers of the event and founder of the Queer Virtue movement, told A Plus this visual paired easily with the idea of looking at Christianity through a queer lens as fire "practically is glitter."

"I think there are people who are absolutely starved to be able to witness to their Christian faith and make a statement about being queer positive," Edman said.


Photo courtesy of Parity

The event is the second collaboration between Edman and Parity, a faith-based LGBTQ organization in New York City. This year, the two groups launched Glitter + Ash Wednesday in which parishes were encouraged to mix glitter in with the ash cross that Catholics, amongst other faiths, have applied to their foreheads during services. Congregations in three countries participated in the movement, which also included pastors offering "ashes to go" at LGBTQ-positive locations such as the Stonewall Monument in New York City.

How each parish chose to incorporate glitter on Sunday, which was shipped to any congregation interested, was left up to the church leaders. At St. Andrew & Holy Communion in South Orange, New Jersey, red, gold and orange glitter was mixed with holy oil and parishioners were invited to receive a blessing in the form of the sign of the cross on their foreheads. At Downtown Disciples in Des Moines, the congregation drew glitter doves on each other's hands and popped balloons full of glitter after the service had concluded. 

Glitter balloons at Downtown Disciples in Des Moines.

Reverend Debbie Griffin, the pastor at Downtown Disciples, believes the glittery addition can be meaningful to any parishioner — regardless of his or her sexual orientation. 

"I'm a straight, white female, but the experience of glitter fire and glitter ashes adds something to my faith experience that I didn't have before," Griffin told A Plus. "It really does give me something positive to look at in a negative world. When people are feeling overwhelmed and depressed with our political climate, it just enriches the experience."

Glitter balloons at Downtown Disciples in Des Moines. 

For Edman, looking at religion — and the world — through a queer lens is essential to what it means to be a Christian today. Through working to overcome the dehumanization of groups that has taken a front seat in the current political discourse, she believes that Christians are better able to connect with others and connect with God. 

"Starting with Jesus, there is this persistent call, this insistent demand that we explore the question 'Who is my neighbor?' and that we comprehend who we are and what it is that divides us and that we shut down those antagonisms so that we can reach each other," Edman said. "Right now, there is this political impulse to say that the problems that we face are the fault of those people over there, those people trying to get into our country, those people trying to vote illegally, those people trying to use the wrong the bathroom. Truth is, we are never going to solve the problems that are before us if we continue to act as if the problem is those people over there."

For Griffin, it was her parish's ability to make a visual statement of their support for "those people over there" that was the most important part of the service.  

"I think we all need inclusiveness when there's so much divisiveness going on," Griffin said. "We need a place to belong and we need a place to connect and feel like we're working on something positive together."


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