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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

‘They’re our neighbors': Grand Haven reverend ‘excited’ to be a part of city’s first Pride Fest

The following story was published by the Fox 17 today and speaks to the current ministry of our congregation.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — On Saturday, June 10, hundreds of people are expected to fill Waterfront Stadium to attend Grand Haven’s first ever Pride Festival.

Rev. Dr. Jared Cramer, who began organizing the event in January, said he’s thrilled to see it come to fruition. “I grew up in Grand Haven. I graduated the class of 2000 from Grand Haven High [School]. I don’t know if I ever thought I’d see something like this in Grand Haven,” Rev. Dr. Cramer said during an interview with FOX 17 on Thursday. “It’s a tremendous step forward for our community of inclusion and diversity, and I’m super excited about it.”

According to the Grand Haven Pride Festival website, the festivities will include a drag brunch, drag-queen bingo, and a dance party with DJs. Rev. Dr. Cramer said all of it is family-friendly, and the fun begins with a service hosted by St. John’s Episcopal Church. “My own church at 10 a.m. is hosting the third annual Pride worship service,” he said. “We started that a few years ago. It’s a worship service for Christians and anyone who wants to support all of God's beloved children.”

Rev. Dr. Cramer said organizing the event was “shockingly” easy. Once they got the word out that his church was doing this, they heard from dozens of people, mainly from the LGBTQ+ community, who wanted to volunteer for it and help run it.

“So, my church has stepped back. We’re solely the fiduciary sponsors for them, handling the admin side,” he said. “All funds collected are going to stay with them or wherever the festival goes in the future. But, that team of volunteers has been outstanding in putting this together.”

In April, the City of Grand Haven approved the event. However, since then, he’s faced opposition, which he expected considering Ottawa County is traditionally politically conservative.

At a city council meeting on May 15, several people stood at the podium and voiced their concerns about the event.

“Jesus, in love, said repent for the kingdom of God is at hand,” said a resident from Allendale. “I don’t come to condemn anyone. That is up to Jesus Christ. But, I do come to share what God says I am to do.”

FOX 17 was not at the meeting but watched the recording of it on the city’s YouTube channel on Thursday.

“I am not going to change your mind, or the decisions made by this council,” said a man from Grand Haven. “I am here out of obedience to publicly proclaim that I stand in opposition to the decision made by this council regarding Pride Month and the drag show celebrations in June. The decisions made by this council goes against God’s word and God’s truth.”

Rev. Dr. Cramer said he’s spoken at a meeting, defending the event. Whenever he comes up against opposition, he encourages people to get to know gay and lesbian Christians. “They’re taxpayers. They’re our citizens. They’re our neighbors. Their kids play in sports with us. They’re our friends,” he said. “We want to have this day to celebrate them.”

In May, the city voted unanimously to recognize June as Pride Month in Grand Haven. Mayor Pro Tem Ryan Cummins released a personal statement to FOX 17 on Thursday, saying via email: “For the last three years, City Council has recognized June as LGBTQ Pride Month in Grand Haven. The support of the community shown at our last City Council meeting was inspiring. I am proud that Grand Haven will be openly supporting the value of the LGBTQ community through the first Grand Haven Pride Festival.”

Rev. Dr. Cramer said he was glad to see it, but the fight for equality is far from over. “The work for equality for them, the work against hatred and violence against the LGBT community is not complete,” he said. “We need to join together as people and ensure that Grand Haven and Ottawa County is a place where everyone absolutely belongs.”

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