A brave faith

One gay Christian seeking authenticity

Questions Are The Answer – nakedpastor and the search for understanding by David Hayward

BelievingThinkingBLOGGER AND CARTOONIST David Hayward was a Christian pastor in Canada for more than thirty years before leaving the paid clergy and setting up thelastingsupper.com, which he describes as ‘an online community for spiritually independent people’. Questions Are The Answer is the story of his journey towards ‘spiritual independence’, told in word and cartoon.

You may be more familiar with his cartoons, which he publishes online on his popular blog nakedpastor.com, where he describes himself as a ‘graffiti artist on the walls of religion’. I’ve included some examples of his work here.


Kim Davis – Let me show you what persecution looks like

Kim Davis on ABC News

ON US TV today (Sept. 22), the clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to ANY couple because she didn’t believe in same sex marriage has said what hurts her most about how she has been treated since she defied the Supreme Court ruling on marriage in June – being called ‘a hypocrite’.

Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky, has been jailed, received a ‘Religious Liberty’ award for fighting ‘legal tyranny’, been called ‘the bravest woman in America‘ and compared to Abraham Lincoln by her lawyer. She has also been called a martyr and a victim of anti-Christian persecutionShe even admitted denying marriage licences to friends, and receiving death threats.

All because she believes in her Christian duty to break the oath she took as a US Government official to uphold the law, in a country whose constitution explicitly forbids the primacy of any religion. The First Amendment clearly states that the US government cannot make any law ‘respecting an establishment of religion.’ In the words of the Supreme Court, this generally means that the government can’t ‘pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another,’ or otherwise become entangled in religious affairs.


A very queer* time – Bishop goes viral, Quest continues, Love In The Dock, God Loves Hugs & Michael’s Mates

God Loves Hugs

A sign I made for our church group in the Liverpool Pride march

* Queer – originally meaning odd, used as a term of homophobic abuse, reclaimed by activists as a defiant act of liberation, now interpreted to mean radical transgression of norms – see my comments on Keith Sharpe’s book The Gay Gospels below.

IT’S BEEN an extraordinary couple of weeks since my last post about the Bishop of Liverpool’s visit to the monthly LGBT communion service I run with my partner in Liverpool.

Enough for several blog posts, in fact. But I’ll stick to the highlights:


Bishop shares ‘absolute welcome’ with LGBT Christians

Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes with St Bride's LGBT Ministry Facilitator Warren Hartley

Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes with St Bride’s LGBT Ministry Facilitator Warren Hartley

A CHRISTIAN community which warmly welcomes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, their friends and family, celebrated its seventh anniversary on Sunday 19th July, with the Bishop of Liverpool as their guest.

The inclusive service, known as ‘Open Table’, meets on the third Sunday of each month at St Bride’s Anglican Church on Percy Street in Toxteth, Liverpool. (more…)

‘Rainbow Profile Pictures for Sex Offenders’ – Homophobia NOT Satire

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was one of 26 million people who used the rainbow filter on his profile picture. SOURCE: Facebook

IT’S LATE – my phone rings. It’s someone I haven’t heard from in a while. I answer.

His greeting is warm, but it sounds like he’s been drinking.

He chats about Facebook – he says he doesn’t use it much but he’s logged in and noticed the rainbow filter on my profile picture, the only one among his list of friends on the site.

He says he is concerned because he has just read an article claiming that sex offenders have been ordered to use rainbow profile pictures on social media so others can easily identify them as potential predators.

He asks if I have seen the article and seems honestly concerned that I should change my profile picture to avoid any misunderstanding. It’s hard to tell if he is serious, due to the potential influence of alcohol and his previous love of practical jokes.

Pride – the opposite of prejudice: from New York to old York

York Pride march began outside the city's historic Minster. Photograph © Duncan Lomax / Ravage Productions

York Pride march began outside the city’s historic Minster.
Photograph © Duncan Lomax / Ravage Productions

THIS SUNDAY is the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, heralded as the birth of the modern international LGBT rights movement. Pride marches in cities across the world, including New York and London, are taking place this weekend to commemorate the struggle for equality that began in New York’s Stonewall Inn in the early hours of June 28th 1969. Forty-five years after the first Pride marches in New York and London, why do we still need them?

We only have to look at events in York, England, this past week for an example. On Saturday 20 June 2015, York Pride started its parade from outside York Minster. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England. Its website  lists its values as: Courage, Trust, Wisdom – it was an admirable display of these values when Canon Michael Smith, responsible for pastoral care at the Minster, announced he would launch the parade. (more…)

WATCH: United Nations ‘Free & Equal’ campaign video marking #IDAHOT2015

IDAHOT-full-logoIn at least 76 countries around the world, loving someone of the same sex is illegal and, in ten countries, it is even punishable by death.  In many more countries citizens are denied their right to live as their preferred gender identity.

As well as legal discriminations, social homophobia, biphobia and transphobia daily serve to deny millions of people across the world their basic human dignity. International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to this issue.

The date of May 17th was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.  IDAHOT day is now celebrated in more than 130 countries.


A Coward with courage – challenging the Church, changing our image of God

Rev Colin Coward MBE

Colin Coward was awarded the MBE in June 2014
for serving the LGBTI community around the world.

LAST WEEKEND, director of Changing Attitude Colin Coward came to our church to give a series of reflections inspired by twenty years working towards a more inclusive church around the world.

Colin is an Anglican priest who originally trained as an architect and subsequently as a psychotherapist.  He ministered for 19 years in inner-city parishes.  In 1995 he founded Changing Attitude which works for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in the life of the Anglican Communion.  Colin is retiring as director in July this year after a brave and prophetic career.

In ‘A Conversation With Colin Coward’ on Saturday 18th April, around 25 people came to hear Colin’s thoughts on what has been achieved towards LGBTI equality within the church, and what more can be done.


A conversation that matters: #OpenChurch2015 conference


Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.

This was the aim of last week’s two-day conference Open Church: The church, sexuality, mission and the future hosted by Steve Chalke, Baptist minister and founder of international charity the Oasis Trust.

Steve hit the headlines two years ago when he called for an ‘open conversation’ around same-sex relationships and marriage in response to the UK government’s consultation on changing the marriage law. Despite being described by prominent US evangelical Tony Campolo as:

one of the most prominent preachers in the United Kingdom, and an icon among Evangelicals

the Oasis Trust had its membership of the Evangelical Alliance discontinued and Steve Clifford, EA’s general director, said:

The danger we all face, and I fear Steve has succumbed to, is that we produce ‘a god’ in our own likeness or in the likeness of the culture in which we find ourselves.

I followed these developments with interest, and chaired a discussion with Steve Chalke when he came to Liverpool in October 2013. I’m not from an evangelical tradition (though I flirted with Charismatic expressions of Catholicism as a young adult), and I’ve spent the last ten years running a youth group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people. So I booked my place on the Open Church conference with an open mind, to see whether this conversation would be as open as Steve hoped.


Reflecting on our identity as LGBT people of faith and as an LGBT faith community

Modern  icons

Image 1 – A selection of modern icons from Brother Robert Lentz OFM which we reflected on during the day.

BY POPULAR REQUEST, members of the community that meets monthly at St Bride’s Church, Liverpool for the Open Table LGBT service spent a day away again this month, six months after our first away-day last October.

Following the theme of identity and individuality we explored in last month’s service, we developed and deepened this at St Joseph’s Prayer Centre in Formby on Saturday 7th May.

As we approach the seventh anniversary of the Open Table service in July, we also reflected on what it means to be a community of LGBT people of faith.