If you grew up like me, you may struggle with the idea of pride as a good thing. I looked up the word recently in my old-fashioned dictionary. Five out of six definitions described pride as a positive thing. The first one, however, made it a synonym of arrogance, a false sense of superiority. For too long the church has never gotten past that first definition.

Pride is about self-esteem, a sense of dignity, and the best of who you are. Equating pride with arrogance robs us of those other understandings of self. It is devastating. Over the next two months there will be several occasions for us to express our pride in good and healthy ways.

On Sunday, June 9 we will express our pride in our graduates. Several people in our Pioneer family are transitioning. They are metamorphosing like butterflies, showing more of their potential as free and beautiful human beings. They are our pride and joy in a good way.

In June, the LGBT community holds Pride Festivals. On June 8 and 9 the Sacramento Pride Festival will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the beginning of the LGBT equal rights march. This year one of our local UCC ministers, Rev. Casey Tinnin of Loomis Basin Congregational UCC will be the Community Grand Marshall. We are proud of him.

On June 23, Natomas will hold the Natomas Big Gay Celebration. Jessica Vroman, our Outreach Board Chair, has enrolled Pioneer in that event. We are the only church the organizers have accepted to participate, combatting the shaming and condemning rhetoric that other churches are spouting. Healthy pride is a proper sense of personal dignity and this is what we are celebrating in these festivals.

Independence Day, July 4, we express our pride in our nation. Being aware of our imperfections should not keep us from celebrating the good that America has done in the world. We take pride in what is good about our country and use that as a template to correct our shortcomings.

On July 21, United Church of Christ churches in Sacramento, Elk Grove and Loomis will hostLinda Kay Klein. She is an author and noted speaker on the subject of overcoming the shame that is so often part of the message heard in fundamentalist churches. Hers is a message that we in the UCC want to share with the community. Being a follower of Jesus does not include feeling shame for who you are. We celebrate and take pride the best of who we are as human beings.

We would be proud for you to join us in any of these celebrations.