A Roman Catholic church in Maplewood that has made some headlines in the past for its progressive and inclusive mission, is hosting special religious services welcoming the LGBTQ+ community for Pride month.
St. Joseph’s Church on Prospect Street will be holding a Special Mass this Saturday, June 19 at 2 p.m., “lovingly supporting our LGBTQ siblings.” The Mass will be followed by an ice cream social. On June 27, St. Joe’s will host a Rainbow Rosary. (See details below.)
“Our Open Arms LGBTQ Ministry along with our Workers4Justice Ministry feel we need to reach out to the community and welcome back anyone who has been hurt by the members of the Church,” said Fr. Jim Worth, pastor of St. Joe’s. “At St. Joseph, we take Pope Francis’ call which is rooted in Christ, to love everyone. A lot of hurt and pain has been experienced by Catholics who have been made to feel unwelcome. Our privilege is to welcome them back. To pray with and journey with them as we all try to build of God’s Kingdom for every person.”
In recent years, St. Joe’s has stepped up its ministry to marginalized communities with a visit from Fr. James Martin in February 2020 to discuss the message of his book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity. Last summer, a group of parishioners who formed the group St. Joseph’s Workers4Justice worked to affirm Black Lives Matter with signage outside the church and on parishioners lawns.
St. Joseph’s is by no means alone: Many Maplewood and South Orange communities of worship are known for their social activism and are providing events, visual displays and social media posts to support the LGBTQ+ community — particularly youth — during Pride Month.
St. George’s Episcopal church hosted Gay Bingo on June 11., and churches and synagogues throughout the towns festooned their houses of worship with Pride colors and posted messages of support on social media. “Happy #Pride Month Beth El! Today and everyday we celebrate every member of our community as made in God’s image!” read a message on the Facebook page of Congregation Beth El in South Orange.