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.
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.
FEBRUARY is LGBT History Month in the UK – marked every year in the UK since 2004 to remember and celebrate the lives and achievements of LGBT people past and present.
It was set up by Sue Sanders, founder of Schools Out, a group for LGBT teachers since 1974.
LGBT History Month is a wonderful opportunity to explore the lives of people who have come before us, those who have made an impact on the way that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people can live their lives today.
Each year LGBT History Month has a theme – The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Coded Lives’, featuring people from history who have lived ‘coded lives’ – i.e. hidden their true identities in various ways: diaries, slang, artwork and clothing.
- Lesbian – Anne Lister, a diarist from the 1700’s who wrote in code to record her intimate feelings for other women
- Gay – Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick, actors who performed on BBC Radio in Polari, the language used by gay men to communicate with each other to avoid detection when their relationships were criminalised
- Bisexual – Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter who portrayed her ‘otherness’ in striking self-portraits
- Trans – Chevalier d’Eon, a diplomat who lived publicly as a man and a woman
My contribution to the campaign was to find new ways to share stories I have previously posted on this blog.
TODAY is the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp in Poland where around 1.5 million people died because they were different.
In September 2009, I accompanied ten young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from Merseyside on a five-day cultural exchange trip to Auschwitz and Warsaw working with a group of young Polish LGBT people from the Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH).
The exchange enabled the group to understand the Holocaust and the fate of many LGBT people at that time, its impact on European and LGBT social history, as well as challenging past and present issues around hate crime. Continue reading
2014 was a big year for marriage equality in the UK.
Same-sex marriage is now possible in the United Kingdom, with the exception of Northern Ireland. As marriage law is devolved to the governments of each country in the Union, the status of same-sex marriage is different in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Continue reading
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 most powerful place from which to renew the face of the earth is the bottom of the heap. Continue reading
Wednesday, Dec. 10 is Human Rights Day.
In celebration, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is launching Speak OUT: 5 ways to fight back against homophobia and transphobia. Watch and share the video with your friends and family. Continue reading
Do you think Jesus would support or oppose renationalising the railways, so they are run in the public sector rather than by private companies?
It’s unlikely Jesus would have held a view, given that public transport had not been invented. But as one wag pointed out on Twitter: ‘He arrived by Virgin‘!