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.
Samhain bonfire by Maree Jamieson
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…)
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.
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 persecution. She 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 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 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…)