Team Trinity earned a medal for hospitality last week as we welcomed visitors from all over the world who attended and participated in the Gay Games 9. It began on Saturday, when our fabulous Flower Guild decorated the Cathedral with flags and rainbow streamers. Throughout the week, people commented on our open doors with the banners: “GOD LOVES YOU, NO EXCEPTIONS” and the rainbow flag welcoming those passing by.
On Saturday evening, I had the privilege of accompanying to the opening ceremony The Rt. Rev. Martin de Jesus Barahona, Bishop of the Episcopal Anglican Church in El Salvador. After enjoying refreshments and speeches at the VIP party, and meeting lots of local officials, the Bishop accompanied the Salvadoran delegation into the Quicken Loans Arena.
Sitting in some of the best seats in the house with Trinity intern Chris and Building Steward Colleen, we watched this amazing procession of LGBT athletes from all over the world walk proudly onto the stage. Overwhelmed with emotions, I couldn’t stop crying, but neither could Connie Schultz. It was an incredible evening of music, dance, cheerleading, speeches and rainbow colors. And it was lots of fun to see so many Trinity members, especially singing in the chorus.
On Sunday, we extended a special welcome to the Salvadoran and Columbian teams whom we help to sponsor. Bishop Barahona preached a powerful sermon about inclusion, love, acceptance and justice and then offered his blessing. That afternoon, the Lind-Ingalls clan hosted the bishop and members of the Salvadoran and Columbian teams, along with their host families for an old-fashioned American cookout and swimming party on the shores of Lake Erie.
On Monday, the games were in full force with Trinity members holding their own in badminton and running, winning medals in swimming and tennis, practicing for the big concert, volunteering at the registration tables, assisting with the sailing. And yes, the Columbians were leading the pack in volleyball.
On Monday night, Trinity hosted the interfaith worship service. Our LGBT Team ushered guests into the nave. Bishop Baharona, Bishop Arthur Williams and I greeted the congregation. We heard powerful preaching from national LGBT faith leaders, and the Mt. Zion UCC choir raised the roof with their music. Yes, there were protesters – two of them – and the media ignored them. And speaking of media, our own Ed Metz had wonderful words to say to the Channel 19 reporter.
On Tuesday, Bishop Arthur and Lynette Williams joined Bishop Baharona for a fun-filled day of volleyball in Cleveland and softball in Akron. Tuesday night, the cathedral welcomed PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) for a potluck and panel discussion in the Gallery with the Latin American athletes.
One young gallery visitor wrote in the comments book:
On Wednesday, Emily and I attended the Pink Flamingos: an event billed as synchronized swimming, but ended up as a spoof on life in the big city. It was great fun to see Mayor Jackson laughing with the crowd.
On Friday, the Cathedral again shined in glory as we hosted the Womyn’s Dance. Transforming the nave into a dance hall, we welcomed some 350+ women for a fun-filled event on a warm summer night. I can’t tell you how many women said that they couldn’t believe they were really welcome to be themselves in a church, much less a cathedral. Thanks to our fabulous team of building stewards, the cathedral was put back in order so that we could worship on Sunday.
GG9 was a great achievement of hospitality and inclusion for Greater Cleveland and Akron. The sidewalks, restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and public venues were vibrantly full of people having a good time and being healthy. Again, thanks to all who served on Team Trinity for demonstrating in word and action our commitment to radical hospitality.