Mike and I went to the 11.00 service at Grace cathedral on Sunday, 23 June.
The cathedral, a replica of Notre Dame, currently has thousands of 84 foot lengths of ribbon suspended from the ceiling, which have been prepared by the local community, and present a visual image of inclusivity and equality. The ribbons will have shades of red added this week, expanding even more on this theme, as all the colours of the rainbow hang from the rafters, in time for Pride weekend.
This equality is further represented in the congregation, which included a range of shapes, incomes, colours and sizes, and also a number of same-sex couples, which both felt and looked perfectly natural. The importance of this cannot be underestimated, as it meant that we didn't feel out of place, or that we had to pretend we were friends in case it offended somebody. We could attend a service together, like any other couple, we could worship together, hold hands and receive communion together, and this was just a normal thing. We had the freedom to be a "couple that pray together"!
The sermon was given by Revd Winnie Varghese, and made reference to equality and equal marriage. It felt both perfectly natural and totally right to be hearing about Equality for all human beings in a church setting, and it struck me how wrong the Church (with a capital 'C') has got it, when it's only in a small number of communities and congregations that all people are welcomed, included, affirmed and blessed.
It's such a small thing, but it made a big impact on us to be able to feel at home, not as two individuals, but as a couple, together ... even moreso because it was the first anniversary of our Civil Partnership registration.
With thanks to the Very Revd. Dr. Jane Shaw for her and the cathedral's hospitality, and to Revd. Winnie Varghese for an inclusive sermon.