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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

Protesters speak out against Pride Festival

Below is an article by Jared Leatzow in today's edition of the Grand Haven Tribune that references the ministries of our church.

A number of protesters came to Grand Haven’s City Council meeting Monday to protest the Grand Haven Pride Festival, which has been approved to take place June 10.

Many of the people in attendance only came to give public comment; most did not stick around for the remainder of the meeting, which included a vote to approve a city millage increase for the 2023/2024 budget year.

“Saturday, June 10 is my son’s birthday. Every year we come down to Grand Haven to grab ice cream, walk the downtown and walk the pier; he looks forward to it every year, it has become a tradition in our family that I do with all four of my boys,” Grand Haven Township resident Adam Reece said. “This year I can’t bring my son downtown for his birthday, because I don’t want to subject my family to an event that is sexual in nature and is unsuitable for children that will be taking place in a public place in downtown Grand Haven.

“Same sex relationships do not produce life, they do not produce the future generations of Grand Haven,” Reece continued. “It is sad that the traditions of the families of Grand Haven and the families visiting Grand Haven will be broken this year for an event that has no business being in the public square.”

Reece told the board he plans to propose an event for 2024 called the Christ is King Festival.

A majority of those protesting were not Grand Haven residents. Some came from Norton Shores, Spring Lake, Allendale, Jenison and West Olive.

“We are here tonight in response to a city condoning sin and depravity,” Jenison resident Marc Edgecombe said. “If you are not a Christian – a true follower of Christ – it is unsurprising that you would condone this. This is not a judgmental or bigoted statement on my part. I do not consider myself better than any of you.

“If you profess to be a Christian and stand in support of this event, then what Bible are your reading?” he continued. “I’m not just talking to the council. If you are a church, and a pastor, and have turned your head, then who do you fear more, God or man? Cowardice has one result, and one reward, and that is eternal judgement.”

Grand Haven’s Pride Festival is being organized by St. John Episcopal Church. In previous years, the church’s pastor, Rev. Jared Cramer, has given a Pride Mass at the city’s Lynn Sherwood Waterfront Stadium.

“I found it particularly distressing as a priest who is absolutely devoted to Jesus Christ and the church, as well as to justice and freedom for my LGBTQ siblings,” Cramer wrote in an email to the Tribune. “When people bring the Bible into this conversation and misuse it as a weapon, with no attention to historical context or original languages. It feels like they are not only saying LGBTQ people are not welcome, but any Christian who thinks differently from them is not an actual real Christian.”

Cramer emailed that it was his impression that the protest of the festival had been orchestrated by an outside organization

“In the end, I believe in our city, elected leadership, our city administration, and the amazing people who live in the Grand Haven and Spring Lake area,” he said. “We are increasingly a community of welcome and diversity, a community that recognizes how much our LGBTQ residents bring to our area and make it a great place to live.

“It’s going to be an amazing pride festival, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it,” Cramer continued. “The light and love of this festival will drive back the hate of extremism. Love always wins in the end. That’s what Jesus taught me, at least.”

Also speaking Monday was city resident and Airport Board member Richard Clapp. Last month, Clapp objected to a drag brunch that is scheduled to take place at the Kirby House this weekend.

“Ever since some guy rejected the cross on Dewey Hill, this town has suffered a moral decline,” Clapp told the council. “That’s why we are in the situation we are in now, when we are faced with issues of transgender drag shows.

“Please hear my strong advice. Refrain from letting loud minority voices from overpowering peaceful majority interests,” he continued. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Grand Haven’s Jacob Welch, who identifies as bisexual, said he didn’t attend the meeting to speak about Pride Month, only to observe the meeting. But looking to add some balance to the conversation, he said, “I can’t tell you a whole lot about religion, but I can’t say I’m adverse to God. It is an area of my life I want to explore … But today, in this room and in this space, there is a secularism; a divide between religion and the action of our nation, and our government.

“That exists because not everyone shares our same beliefs and religions,” he continued. “People aren’t just Christian, that is an important thing to say, and obviously if you are Christian that is not wrong. … Everyone has the right to have self-expression in our nation. That is something we fought for, but that also means you can’t abridge someone’s right to self-expression.”

In a follow-up conversation Councilmember Ryan Cummins told the Tribune, “I respect people exercising their First Amendment rights. Even though nearly all of the commenters were not city residents, we (City Council) do welcome all public comments.

“I’ve received many more comments from folks who are supportive of the City Council’s unanimous approval of both Pride Month and the first Pride Festival for our community.”

For the last three years the Grand Haven city council has recognized June as LGBTQ Pride Month, Cummins said. He said the community celebrates diversity and he said he is proud that Grand Haven has been open about it.

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