Brighton churches 'supportive' as city prepares for UK's largest gay pride march

Churches are preparing for the UK's largest gay pride march this weekend in Brighton.

Tens of thousands are expected to turn out on the seafront in Brighton and Hove for the annual "pride parade" through the town to the festival on Saturday morning.

A number of churches are dotted along the march's route. While the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage is highly controversial in many of Britain's churches – including the Church of England – the local Anglican Diocese of Chichester has said its churches have "created a range of inclusive events to celebrate" the festival. Some churches are putting theological questions to one side in an effort to be open and welcoming. 

More than 20,000 people are expected to watch or participate in the march on Saturday.Reuters

A key landmark on the route is the evangelical Anglican church St Peter's, known as the "cathedral of Brighton". Vicar Archie Coates told Christian Today he was "very supportive" of the parade and a lot of people in his congregation would be taking part.

"It's great because it celebrates diversity as much as it celebrates LGBT people," he said. "In our congregation we have a lot of diversity and a lot of LGBT people and we are very supportive."

The church was planted by the charistmatic London church Holy Trinity Brompton in 2009 and around 1,000 people attend every Sunday.

Two other Anglican churches, St John's Church near Preston Park and St Luke's Prestonville, said they had "open doors to celebrate all that the Pride Festival stands for".

St John's will host a special service for LGBT people, family and friends on Saturday afternoon and St Luke's will hold a "Pride Teaparty" later on Saturday.

The vicar, Rev Martin Poole, said: "Here at St Luke's we want everyone to know that God loves and affirms them and there is a welcome here that reflects that.

"We acknowledge that there is a complicated relationship between sexuality and the church which has often been difficult and we want to give people an opportunity to talk about this in an open and non-judgmental environment.

"A tea party felt like just the right sort of atmosphere to have these kinds of conversations and will provide a place for those who might not be attracted to the exuberance of the festival in the park."

A New Frontiers Church, Church of Christ the King, also has a site near the parade's route. It declined to comment when Christian Today asked whether it was doing anything for the festival.