St. Luke’s of Lebanon, PA, hosts first-ever Pride service, announces plans for continued LGBTQ+ support    

St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Lebanon, PA
Posted Jun 30, 2023

The Rev. Kevin Barron, Chair of the LGBTQ Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, preaches during the “You Are Loved” service at St. Luke’s.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, hosted “You Are Loved – A Pride Service” to open the Lebanon’s Got Pride 2023 celebration on Sunday, June 25, 2023. The service featured guest clergy and a special choir made up of singers from throughout Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania. A full recording of the service can be viewed on St. Luke’s YouTube page.

“The response to the service has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Steve Doster, St. Luke’s Senior Warden. “Following the service, St. Luke’s had a booth at the Lebanon’s Got Pride 2023 celebration and numerous people thanked us for the message of straightforward affirmation and love towards the LGBTQ+ community. Several LGBTQ+ Christians who attended the service commented on the importance of the church publicly reinforcing this message.”

As part of the service, Doster announced St. Luke’s plans–in partnership with other Lebanon community organizations and the LGBT Center of Greater Reading–to open a more permanent support center in Lebanon County and host quarterly stakeholder meetings for LGBTQ+ and allies at the church beginning in the fall of 2023. The collection from the Pride service will benefit these future efforts.

St. Luke’s flies Pride flag.

The Rev. Kevin Barron, Chair of the LGBTQ Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, delivered the sermon, which focused on the importance of people to being present in this world in their full truth and authenticity as God intended us to be. He also stressed the critical need for more safe, open, and affirming churches where the LGBTQ+ community can worship God in their complete and authentic selves and where we all can hear God calling to do the work we are to do. “In truth, many of our churches are not ready to love as Jesus loved,” said Rev. Barron. “Thankfully, some are.”

Steve Baker, Canon for Mission Resources and Chief Operating Officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem delivered a message from Bishop Kevin Nichols that reinforced that St. Luke’s and the entire Episcopal Church is an open and affirming fellowship – affirming the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and non-binary persons and those who love them in the church’s life and ministry.

The Rev. Bradley Mattson of Hope Episcopal Church, Manheim, Pennsylvania, and the Rev. Mary Kisner, associate pastor at St. Luke’s, also participated in the service, along with clergy and lay readers from several other churches and denominations. The service concluded with a Progress Pride flag raising ceremony in the church yard followed by a community reception in St. Luke’s auditorium.