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Celebrating Pride: Local church holding a week of virtual events

By Staff | Jun 5, 2020

Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church will be decked out to celebrate Pride Month this week, as it was in this photograph after Panhandle Pride 2019 Interfaith Service. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for many summer festivals and celebrations to be canceled, to slow down the disease’s spread. One of those festivals was the annual Pride Festival, which brings hundreds of attendees from across the region to downtown Shepherdstown.

When Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church’s More Light Committee realized this, they decided to create their own virtual celebration. This week, the church has decorated itself in honor of Pride Month, and will be holding a series of live events on the church’s Facebook page that the public can participate in.

“Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church thought, since we were part of pride last year with our interfaith service, that we’d do our own thing this year,” said More Light Committee member Pat Hamilton about the service, which started off last year’s Pride celebrations. “We thought that this year, because there would be no Pride Festival, we had to do more.”

According to Hamilton, the church’s More Light Committee is part of a denomination-wide group of the same name with the same goal — “to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) people in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in society.”

The first virtual event was held yesterday–a mentor training for local LGBTQIA+ youth in the Eastern Panhandle Youth Alliance. Although the group is currently holding its meetings virtually and only needs a moderator, when in-person meetings are held again, the newly-trained adult mentors will be needed to staff the meetings, Hamilton said.

The second event, a Pride Dance Party, will be held on Saturday night at 7 p.m.

“This will definitely be our first dance party! It’s going to be family-friendly, for people of all ages,” Hamilton said, mentioning the virtual party will be led by a professional disc jockey. “Gem LaVie is a professional playwright and performer based in Philadelphia. She’s in residence at the Philadelphia Young Playwrights. She’ll put on music and dress up, and do a sort of DJ Live Dance Party.”

Sunday’s 11 a.m. virtual service with Rev. Gusti Linnea Newquist will highlight the purpose of the More Light Committee, followed on Monday with the final event–the posting of a video in which SPC members relate personal, 60-second insights into what Pride means to them.

For community members wanting to attend a few more Pride Month virtual events, Hamilton suggested they visit the National More Light Presbyterians Facebook page on Sunday at 4 p.m. for a virtual service, followed at 7 p.m. for a showing of “Out of Order,” a documentary about the struggles faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer faith leaders within the Presbyterian Church, USA.