The Logo of The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta - Purple Crest with Bishop's Mitre

Christ Church Norcross and Other Churches Attend Gwinnett Pride to Proclaim God’s Love for All

Jun 22, 2023

Gwinnett Pride

Gwinnett Pride volunteers from Christ Church Norcross and Epiphany Lutheran Church in Suwanee

NORCROSS, GA – Members of Christ Church in Norcross offered a welcoming presence on June 1st at the 2nd annual Gwinnett Pride event.

Christ Church vestry member Wes Quesenberry, who coordinated the pride event for the church, described his 55-year-old parish as open and affirming.

“We’re open to everybody no matter your age, race, gender, national origin or sexual identity,” Quesenberry said. “Just a big family, a welcoming family so just come out and see what we’re all about!”

The event, held in Norcross’s Thrasher Park, drew 32 displays of organizations, vendors, and others, said Pride Gwinnett’s Rolando Guzman.

While LGBTQ+ rights have definitely advanced in the last five decades, not everyone in our community reaps the benefits of such progress. This is particularly evident in rural and suburban areas,” Guzman said.

“Gwinnett Pride creates a safe, even if temporary, space where members of the LGBTQ+ community are allowed to be themselves out in the open and at the heart of the county. That sends a powerful message, especially to our youth, letting them know that it’s OK to be themselves, right here, where they live.”

Christ Church’s community involvement was on display at Gwinnett Pride where they shared a tent with Gwinnett’s Epiphany Lutheran Church. The Rev. Deacon Iñaki Guevara of Christ Church attended and gave a prayer and encouragement to those at the church’s tent.

Deacon Inaki Guevara

The Rev. Deacon Iñaki Guevara of Christ Church (left) shares a laugh with Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Rev. Katie Day.

Senior Pastor Katie Day of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church, which was a sponsor of the event, said it’s the first time her church has taken part in Gwinnett Pride.

“We were delighted to see other congregations there as well. That felt good that there were other congregations who are welcoming and inclusive and affirming of the LGBTQ community,” Day said. “We had a lot of really good conversations with folks, and we were surprised by how many people stopped at our booth to say thank you for being there. People who identified as being people of faith or no faith or people recovering from religious trauma but wanted to stop and tell us that they were grateful that we were there and that our voice was a counter to the often loud and public voice of exclusive and or hatred coming from Christians in the news.”

Brother Chris of the Jesus is Lord Street Ministry, called homosexuality a sin but said his group being at Gwinnett Pride was not about being antigay, but about spreading the true word of God.

“A lot of things that are in the Bible have been lost to modern society like the word pride. Pride is one of the original sins. Pride is the reason Satan fell from Heaven and yet here we are celebrating it today and we’re calling salt sweet. It’s not the way God intended it.”

Pastor Scott of Jesus is Lord Ministry

Brother Chris of the Jesus is Lord Street Ministry (center) stands with members of his ministry as he discusses their reason for attending Gwinnett Pride.

When Chris’ group set up outside the entry gate Rev. Day said she and others went and stood at the entry next to the protesters.

“I just did it to greet people as they came into the festival so that they weren’t only greeted by people shouting about sin and repentance and things like that, but we’re greeted by me wearing a clerical collar and a shirt that said This Pastor Loves You, saying welcome I’m so glad you’re here. So, I was out there trying to provide a counter testimony to that of the protesters,” Day said.

Street Ministry Day

Members of the Jesus is Lord Street Ministry Day hold signs and preach at the entrance to Gwinnett Pride.

Day said she plans to be at Gwinnett Pride 2024. Christ Church will be there too, said vestry member Quesenberry.

For Guzman, the protestors were a sign of the festival’s increasing impact with more than 2,500 attending this year’s event.

“This year, for the first time since we had our first Pride event in 2019, we had the presence of radical Christians at the park. While their presence is a sign that we’re doing something right by pushing the boundaries and shifting a paradigm at the county level, it’s also a sad reminder that many churches completely ignore the fact that His main command was to love one another,” Guzman said.

“Thankfully, we also had the presence of three churches in the county that embrace our community: Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church, a sponsor of our event, Epiphany Lutheran from Suwanee, and Christ Church Episcopal from Norcross, spreading a message of inclusivity and respect for the dignity of every human being.”

Christ Church, founded in 1978, has a long-standing reputation for community involvement and founding ministries that meet the needs of its neighbors. One is Rainbow Village, which began with a single duplex, and now provides a home for thirty families, along with programs that instill self-development and accountability.

The church’s on-campus thrift shop run by volunteers supplies low-cost clothing and household goods. In addition to Gwinnett Pride, the parish’s community involvements include supporting the efforts of Norcross Community Ministries (NCM), for which Christ Church hosts a Vacation Bible School for NCM-served families.

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta under the leadership of Bishop Rob Wright has invested in a deep and wide ministry to those who are LGBTQIA+. View one of our June #PrideMonth reflections and look for us in October at the “Show Up and Show Out” Atlanta Pride events.

Don Plummer is the beat reporter for The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. If you have story ideas, please reach out to Don.

“Sharing the heartbeat of the diocese.”

Phone: 770-695-6260