The 2018 PRIDE Festival gave us the amazing opportunity to share love and words of hope with the LGBTQ+ community of Las Vegas, alongside our own Child Development Center, Boulder City UMC and new participant, Green Valley UMC. As you can see in the photos, we had many volunteers and visitors to our booth, where we invited people to spread messages of hope, love, or prayers for themselves and others by the way of "leaves" for our tree.
The tree idea was conceived for our 2015 PRIDE festival by Diana Volere and was intended as a symbol of community, a place to share thoughts, prayers, fears, encouragement, whatever words came to mind. Each year everyone loves the tree and thanks us for providing them with the chance to share their personal stories and hopes for the future. Due to the overwhelming amount of love being shared by the end of the first day, we had to purchase a second tree to display all of the messages. It was amazing and inspirational to see how many people wanted to share their love with our church and the rest of the community.
I was excited for the opportunity to help organize this year’s festival, and the response from people wanting to participate was truly breathtaking. This year we had 30 people sign up from University Church and Child Development Center, three from Boulder City UMC and eight from Green Valley UMC. After being in the booth for two full days, I can say I was physically exhausted but spiritually revitalized.
I was one of the few people who participated in our church’s first PRIDE experience in 2014 and it is astounding to see the growth, increase in participation, and acceptance over the last three years. This year we created shirts for our volunteers to wear that carried a message of kindness and hope. They read, Humankind – Be Both. The t-shirts were so well received by the attendees, other vendors, and our church members, we have decided to use them as CDC uniform shirts for all of our teachers, as well as a fundraising opportunity for our church to support homeless youth. If you are interested in purchasing a shirt with our church name on the back, please email me.
The overall reaction from the festival goers was one of gratitude. I could not believe how many people took the time to thank us for being a resounding voice of Christian love, kindness and acceptance. If you have the chance to visit our Fellowship Hall, take a moment to look where we have placed many of this years "leaves" to remind us of the never ending need for all of us to show kindness, to everyone in our community, to the best of our ability, every day. Pray over them with us, and rejoice for the hope our congregation and community has helped blossom in the past three years.
We want to thank all of the volunteers from our congregation and child development center, Boulder City UMC and Green Valley UMC who came out to support this vision.