Preparing for Pride

Witnessing to God’s all-encompassing love

26 June 2024

Pride is an established event in many towns and cities celebrating the LGBT+ community. In this blog, the Rev’d Hayley Edmondson from Ulverston Methodist Church, shares how she is helping to bring the first Pride event to the Cumbrian market town.


When I arrived at Ulverston Methodist Church in September 2023 one of the first things I did was to get the Methodist Church’s Pride poster ‘Love is Love’ put in the external church noticeboard as I wanted everyone to know that they would be safe here. As 2024 dawned, the church and I started to look forward to holding our first same-sex wedding in April 2024. As I shared some of our excitement about this with others I quickly became aware that we are the only church in the town of Ulverston registered to conduct same-sex marriage and in which LGBTQIA+ people would be able to be the people God made them to be. As I prayed about this asking God for guidance, I felt God encouraging both me and Ulverston Methodist Church to ensure that the local Pride community know that we are an inclusive and welcoming church and that the God we know and represent welcomes and loves everyone unconditionally.

As we prepared for the wedding we became aware of the local Ulverston Pride Community group on social media and both I and Rev’d Grace Cauldwell, the Superintendent in the South Lakes Circuit, joined this group. We then found out that this group is organising the very first Pride Festival in Ulverston on 20th July 2024. Following more prayer, we felt sure that God was prompting us to be a Christian presence at this festival, so I booked a stall. I wasn’t sure how the congregation at Ulverston Methodist Church would feel about us making such a visible statement about our inclusivity but when I shared with the church leadership team my intention, they whole heartedly embraced it.

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The congregation turned out in force for the wedding in April, with some even threatening to see off any protestors with their walking sticks (thank goodness there was no need for this) and it was a truly joyous and beautiful occasion on a bright and sunny Saturday. The very much in love couple walked down the aisle to two different Taylor Swift tracks supported by two best men, six adult bridesmaids, three page boys and two flower girls and were both given away by their Dads. The wedding was reported on in the local press too, which was wonderful to see - Lovebirds celebrate Taylor Swift wedding at Ulverston Methodist Church | The Mail (nwemail.co.uk)

Ulverston Methodist Church has an Angel Fellowship group who, along with other members of the church congregation, have for many years knitted angels to give away at Christmas. In the town these angels have become well known so I approached the group to see if they would be willing to knit angels to give away at the Pride festival. This request was met with a resounding yes and a few weeks later I was presented with a bag of 200 angels to give out on the day in a bright array of colours!

Since then, I’ve met with the Pride Festival director and some of the committee to talk about how we as a church can support the Pride community group and the Pride festival. As a result of this in the run up to the first Pride festival we are collaborating with the festival committee to host three children’s craft events to produce decorations for the town centre for the day of the festival. These events are being held in the worship space as a way of bringing new people into the church and outwardly showing that our church is a safe space for all. Alongside this we as a church will be featured in the Ulverston Pride Festival magazine as a way of sharing our loving God with the community and after the festival we intend to continue to collaborate with the local Pride community group on projects and outreach together.

As the festival approaches we are all hoping and praying for fabulous weather and a day of colour, fun and joy as we celebrate a group of people who are all too frequently pushed to the edges of our society. We pray that as Ulverston Methodist Church we can be a true witness to our amazing God, in whose image we are made and from whose love nothing can ever separate us!

Rev'd Hayley will be sharing how Ulverston celebrated Pride after the event.