We Are Rainbow People

Radically inclusive love has been the heart and the vision of Prospect Park United Methodist Church for decades. Our building, our ministries, our lives are marked by rainbows – the symbol of our commitment to diversity and variety as the image of God and God’s kin-dom come. We celebrate our rainbow history – particularly in the face of decisions made by the special general conference of the global church held in St. Louis last month.

What follows is a sampler of rainbow moments – a “tip of the iceberg” collection!

First, note the header of our quarterly newsletter, Prospectus 2.0, to the left! It was designed by Jacquelyn Eckholm who was inspired by a photo of the organ in our sanctuary. The photo featured colorful geometric patterned quilts made by Marilee Johnson, and so the pipes of the organ, infused with all colors of the rainbow, became the rolling hills of the neighborhood, crowned by the Water Tower! Marilee’s rainbow quilts also have declared us “reconciling” and often grace the landing that leads to the sanctuary.

PPUMC is one of the first members of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a United Methodist coalition which was founded in the mid-1980’s. You will see the rainbow flamed “burning bush” image on most everything we publish.

For a clear description of the RMN focus on justice, visit: https://rmnetwork.org/who-we-are/mission/

PPUMC has long had a presence at the annual PRIDE festival in Loring Park in July, where the UMC “booth” helps people find a safe church space. Below you see Janet and Rev. Judy WestLee at the table untangling the strings of rainbow peace sign necklaces. Minnesota Methodists have given away tens of thousands of these amazingly popular rainbow blessings year by year, one by one, often putting them around someone’s neck with a smile and a spoken word of peace and welcome.

Many of us worked together and were in conversation with as many strangers and friends as we could reach prior to the 2013 vote that established legal same sex marriage in MN. Quietly by phone and publicly in demonstration, we let it be known that as United Methodists working ecumenically across many denominations, we believe ALL marriages are about HOW rather than WHO we love.

Design by Rev. Chris Kliesen Wehrman
Rev. Chris Kliesen Wehrman (dark glasses) demonstrating for marriage equality outside the MN State Fairgrounds, opening day 2013.

Marriage equality became the law in MN, while our denomination lagged painfully behind. One of our responses was to consider and create a congregational statement supporting same-sex weddings in our church building. In May of 2014 the congregation affirmed and dedicated the statement during worship, and the signed document is displayed prominently in the church.

We rejoiced when in July of 2017 Bishop Sally Dyck (serving the Northern Illinois Conference, after leaving the Minnesota Conference) commissioned for ordination Rev. M. Barclay, the first openly non-binary trans person to become a UM deacon.

We continue to welcome, educate, and encourage people to open their eyes, open their doors and open their hearts in every possible way to a fuller and fuller inclusion of ALL people in ALL aspects of the church.

Pastor Chris and the breathing ball. (Most often led by a child – visitors and members alike are invited.)

Every Sunday morning, we begin our gathered worship with three unison breaths. We follow the expansion of the rainbow breathing ball, and as we breathe together, we remember that we are the embodiment of the image of God on earth. It is our hands and feet – our stories and songs – that bring the future home. We will be known by the way we love each other.

Injustice may seem to have frozen our progress forward, but it is not so! We will not be stopped in our movement forward, and on the other side of whatever divisions may come, is a more honest way of being who we are and moving into a future juicy with ripening possibilities….for EVERY BODY!

The people of PPUMC stand with the Minnesota Conference in rejecting the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel message and will resist its implementation. 

We remain committed to full inclusion.

LOVE GROWS HERE.

This page is based off of an issue of Prospectus 2.0 released in March of 2019. To read the original release, click here.