Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! That’s the only word to describe St. Stephen UMC’s appearance in this year’s Alan Ross Freedom Pride Parade in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood on Sunday, Sept. 20. In fact, many who were there feel that they had a second service of “church” throughout the parade.
What’s more, Love Won! St. Stephen’s first-ever float won the award for Best Non-Profit Entry from the parade organizers.
Credit goes to the church’s accompanist Michael Carr, who came up with the design for our float, and his partner Thomas Ellis, woodworker extraordinaire who designed the frame. The float was built over two Saturdays by members of the congregation, most of whom also walked the parade or staffed the St. Stephen UMC booth at the accompanying festival in Dallas’ Reverchon Park.
In addition to the fun of being in the parade, participants reported that the reaction of parade watchers was the big highlight of the day. Some members posted on Facebook that they choked up with tears a few times upon seeing the amazement and gratitude on the spectators’ faces as St. Stephen folks showered them with God’s love.
Walkers and dancers threw candy, beads and bracelets with faith themes to the spectators, while float riders waved, blew kisses and signed “I Love You” in American Sign Language.
“The whole experience was an affirmation that our congregation is fulfilling our vision statement of proclaiming, believing and sharing God’s unconditional love with the world,” the church said on its blog.
Also marching in the Pride Parade were members of Dallas’ other Reconciling UMCs: Northaven, Greenland Hills, Lakewood and Grace-Dallas. A sixth congregation, Kessler Park UMC, approved its RMN membership by congregational vote just a week before the parade. In addition to the United Methodist entries, another 15 Dallas area congregations participated in the march, according to the Rev. Eric Folkerth, senior pastor of Northaven UMC.
Now that the excitement of the day has ebbed, St. Stephen folks say they have only one problem: How do they top this year’s witness in next year’s Pride Parade?
— Adapted for RMN from St. Stephen UMC’s blog
St. Stephen UMC members (from left) Tina Simpson, Lowell Sargent and Forrest Oliver ride the church float in the Alan Ross Pride Parade in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood.