Dr. Cooper Gives Sermon at Mankata LGBTQ+ Pridefest Posted on September 15th, 2023 by


Dr. Thia Cooper gave a sermon on Saturday, Sept. 9 as part of a communal worship service before the official start of Mankato’s Pridefest. Faith leaders and congregants from diverse communities gathered at Mankato’s First Presbyterian Church to show their support for LGBTQ+ persons and communities, and to demonstrate that many Christians support the choices and proclaim God’s love for all people.

Dr. Cooper, Professor of Religion, gave a sermon during the interfaith service. Brian Arola, journalist for the Mankato Free Press, gives a summary:

[Dr. Cooper] centered a sermon around 1 John at the worship service. At times she asked the audience at First Presbyterian to finish the statement “God is love.”

She noted the complexity of sacred texts, to the point it can take an entire semester of her Christian theology class to skim the surface of the different ways Christians around the world read the Bible and live based on their traditions and experiences with it.

Some use scriptures as if it’s a hammer or weapon to harm people, she said. She sees scriptures more as attempts to express the relationship between humans and God, with the 1 John passages serving as examples.

The passages came about in an environment of conflict within the early church. Ferocious arguments were going on about what was right and wrong.

Verses in 1 John are calls to approach conflict through love rather than fear and hate, Cooper said. From verse 20, she read “whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.”

This text harks back to the Gospel of John’s chapter 13, verse 34, she said, in which Jesus said “a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.”

In her closing, she encouraged people to remember these verses as they continue through their day.

“You may experience hate from someone who says they love God, but remember God is love, God loves every single one of us and God wants us to love, to love ourselves and to love each other,” she said.

Brian Arola’s whole article in the Mankato Free Press is available here.


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