The Council of Lutheran Churches (CLC) walked in London Pride Parade 2023 with the slogan “Unconditionally loved.” We marched right behind the Finnish Lutheran Church community and gathered people from several CLC member churches and ministries, most of them from the Swedish Church, the Lutheran Church in Great Britain (LCiGB), the International Lutheran Student Centre, and also from Danish YWCA.
The message “Unconditionally loved” was intended not to represent one particular church but a Christian voice as we understand it together. It was very well received by the crowd – so many people replied to it by joining hands for a heart sign, smiling and waving rainbow flags. One man shouted “God loves gays,” and another lifted up his cross necklace to witness our common Christian faith. People pointed excitedly to the clergy collars that six of the CLC group were wearing, and one person from the crowd came along to Sunday service at St Anne’s Lutheran Church the following day.
It’s not the first year that Lutherans were present at London Pride. In previous years both the Finnish Church and the Swedish Church have participated, but this year the CLC wanted to extend the invitation to all nine member churches and friends.
Some people may ask why is the CLC going to London Pride. We have several reasons: Lutheran churches, especially in Western Europe and North America tend to be more inclusive; CLC has just started its LGBTQ+ support and interest group that meets once a month; the Lutheran Church in Great Britain recently updated the statement on Human Sexuality and Relationships, allowing same-sex marriages and openly LGBTQ+ people to be ordained. It declared that “In some denominations the “homosexual issue” has become a touchstone for determining orthodoxy and heresy, the LCiGB asserts unequivocally that these questions are not ones by which the church stands or falls. All that is necessary for church unity, according to Lutheran teaching and tradition, is agreement about the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments.”