AT A carol service last Sunday, hosted by Open Table, an LGBT Christian community in Liverpool, I read one of the readings, which I found moving, inspiring and too good not to share.
The poem, called Coming Out by Sigrid Rutishauser-James, draws on the image of light in darkness, which was the theme of the whole service:
Come into the light
God’s light brings life
Though bright and penetrating
The energy of those laser beams
Makes weak limbs strong
And mute tongues sing.
Take hold of that small pearl of faith
That God has given
And hold on.
So will the judging arrows of your fear-filled friends
Though hurt and pain be real
And in bewilderment of storm
Be found rare gifts of peace
And in the wilderness
This time of year can be tough, especially if being with family means you feel unable to be true to yourself. This Christmas, this New Year, may you know enough light, life, strength, faith and peace to be all that you can be.
IT’S TEN YEARS this month since the first civil partnerships for same-sex couples in the UK.
The first couple to benefit from the new legal recognition for their relationship were Chris Cramp and Matthew Roche from West Sussex, on 5th December 2005. Yet when images from the first UK civil partnerships appear in the media to accompany stories about same-sex relationships and marriage equality, it’s not this couple you see.
THIS WEEK in England there is an interesting combination of commemorations – Anti-Bullying Week, Interfaith Week, and Trans* Awareness Week, culminating today in Trans* Day of Remembrance (TDOR).
I have been at four events in the past week to mark these campaigns:
- ‘An All Embracing Faith’ – Keynote speech by Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall LGBT rights charity at Liverpool Cathedral last Friday
- My first day as a Stonewall School Role Model, speaking at Manchester Grammar School
- ‘Believing in LGBT young people’ conference for Interfaith Week at the LGBT Foundation in Manchester
- A special service of remembrance to start Trans* Awareness Week and mark TDOR at Open Table, Liverpool’s monthly Christian service for the LGBT community, family and friends.
AT THIS time of year it’s not unusual to hear people in England complain of the ‘American import’ of Halloween and its lanterns, costumes, and trick or treating.
While it’s true that Halloween celebrations have become as commercialised as Christmas, in the USA and increasingly here in the UK, it’s also true that it was our ancestors of Celtic heritage who brought these customs to the New World. (more…)
WHAT IS a conversation if it’s not shared? Talking to myself? Enjoying the sound of my own voice? Only hearing views I agree with?
This odd phrase was chosen by the Church of England to describe its facilitated listening process to seek some reconciliation, or at least ‘good disagreement’ over diverse views on sexuality and same-sex marriage. Perhaps they meant that, rather than just talking to those we agree with, we should be talking with those with whom we profoundly disagree.
The Shared Conversations process is about half way through, with an uncertain outcome. As my partner was invited to take part in the meeting for the north west of England last month, I’m handing over this post to his reflection on the experience: (more…)
THIS WEEK, the church where my partner and I volunteer to run a monthly LGBT inclusive service, faced a huge decision – whether to commit to at least ten years of major fundraising and building work, or to walk away and start afresh somewhere else.
A question this big was hard to answer – the community was divided, with strong feelings on both sides. We needed to do something to help us see past our doubts and fears and hear what (and where) God is calling us to be. (more…)
HATE CRIME AWARENESS WEEK has just ended in the UK. The Home Office release the latest statistics on hate crime, which showed that:
- the number of hate crimes (motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity) reported in England & Wales was up 18% on the previous year (52,528 in 2014/15, 44,471 in 2013/14).
- 11% (5,597) were motivated by homophobia.
- 1% (605) were motivated by transphobia.
- Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes were more likely to be violent.
WHEN AN LGBT PERSON speaks of coming out, it often involves the moment of revelation to those closest to you, especially parents and family. October 11th is #NationalComingOutDay – so here’s my story:
Coming out was certainly a major milestone on my journey, delayed and complicated by the fact that I spent three years in my twenties hiding behind the smokescreen of celibacy by training to be a Catholic priest. I felt I had to build up to the moment I told my parents in two ways; first, by telling them I was leaving the seminary, and second, by telling my five siblings. (more…)
BLOGGER 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.