The Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches ( CCWC ) gathered June 17 for its first-ever "Sharing Light, Sharing Faith in Divided Times" Pride Brunch and Reception. The coalition welcomed about 75 people from across Chicagoland to the Unitarian Church of Evanston.
Every year, the coalition holds various worship services throughout Pride Month; however, this year the group felt warranted a little something more.
CCWC Coordinator Rev. Jacki Belile said, "This year, frankly, we felt like we needed to create some space for conversation. Space to hear again, or introduce to some people for the first time, the story of the coalition, the things that we've done that we know have made an impact and the places where we know we want to make more impact."
The Pride brunch was the solution. While there, attendees learned about the history of the CCWC and had time to reflect on the changes or issues they have seen within their own churches. Many wanted to work on supporting youth, advocating for trans members and focusing on intersectionality with the Black Lives Matter movement within their faith communities.
"It was a nice mix of painting the big story of where we've come from and where we still want to go, and getting people connected and networking across the table," Belile said.
After time for conversation and reflection, attendees rang bells and some recited poet Maren Tirabassi's work "Forty-Nine Bells" in honor of the 49 people killed in the Pulse massacre that happened a year ago.
The morning closed out with a Black Lives Matter vigil outside the church. Belile said the vigil showed the CCWC's emphasis on "being aware of and being deeply committed to the sanctity of Black lives in a world where ... our African American brothers and sisters wake up and have a lot of reasons to see their lives not valued."
The CCWC will also be hosting its annual dedication worship service immediately before the Pride Parade on June 25 at Truman College and a picnic after the parade to continue working toward its mission of expressing gratitude and support for the LGBTQ faith community.