Pontypridd church’s radical marriage policy

Here’s an announcement we were sent from St David’s Uniting Church in Pontypridd, they have taken a radical and challenging stand for equality. Please send them some words of encouragement.

All Are Welcome

In striving to live into God’s kingdom of justice and joy, St David’s Uniting Church, Pontypridd have passed a proposal to promote equality in regards to their marriage policy.

Currently legally unable to conduct same gender weddings, the congregation has made the decision to cease conducting heterosexual weddings until this changes, whilst offering a common blessing ceremony for all couples in the meantime.

Their sister congregation, Castle Square URC, is registered to conduct weddings for all couples and it is hoped that St David’s Uniting Church will be able to follow in their footsteps soon. Until that time comes, they will continue to fight for equality, justice and welcome for all people, whatever their sexuality or gender, both in the church and in the wider community.

“This will be a prophetic witness of God’s extravagant love for all for those within our parent denominations who think differently,” said Bethan Walkling, church elder.

“At a time when many are turning away from the Church because they see it as judgmental, this could be a great way of sharing God’s good news of great joy for all people, which of course includes the LGBTQ+ community,” added Revd Dr Phil Wall, church minister.

“This decision isn’t about restricting our range of services but extending the blessing of loving relationships and ensuring that we do so with full equality to all. This is in line with our calling to bless all sorts of relationships in God’s name – couples, families, colleagues…the possibilities – like God’s love – are endless!”

Iestyn Henson, church elder.

 

Tower Hamlets Peace Walk

Here’s some news we were sent from Tower Hamlets LGBT Community Forum

The Tower Hamlets LGBT Community Forum in partnership with Local Voices, on behalf of Tower Hamlets Council, are leading a Peace Walk in the borough as an address to hate and violence.

This will take place on Monday 14th October 2019, meeting at The Shaheed Minar Memorial in the southwest corner of Altab Ali Park at 2.15pm.

We will set off at 2.30pm on a route taking us through Brick Lane, past the location of one of the nail bombing attacks of 1999, then on to Bethnal Green Road, past Weavers Field, heading back to Whitechapel Road, before turning on to Cambridge Heath Road and heading to St Johns Church on Bethnal Green (route may be subject to change).

The second part of the event will be held at St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road. London E2 9PA and begin at 3.30pm and end at 6.30pm.

There will be light refreshments and short speeches/presentations from representatives of peace supporting organisations talking about the impact of hate crime. There will also be activities and performances with some time for networking at the end.

Hate crime effects all people and all communities and everyone is welcome to attend.

If you would like to join us along route then please email for route details and meeting points. If you have any access needs then please email to discuss these with us. If you cannot join us for the walk then you are welcome to join us for the second half of the event at 3.30pm.

I hope to see you at the walk.  Please share this invitation and poster with your colleagues, contacts and service users.

Peace Walk Flyer 2019

News from our co-director, Luke and One Body One Faith

Here at Affirm we are thrilled to let you all know that Luke Dowding, our co-director has been appointed to the role of Executive Director at One Body One Faith, two years to the day since their launch date.

Chair of One Body One Faith Trustees, Reverend Canon Peter Leonard, said, “The Trustees are delighted that Luke has accepted the invitation to become OneBodyOneFaith’s new Executive Director. He arrives at a very exciting time in the organisation’s long history and brings a range of skills and experience which will build on and develop the excellent work done by outgoing Chief Executive Officer Tracey Byrne. The Trustees would like to thank Tracey for her commitment and dedication and are very much looking forward to the future under Luke’s direction”

Luke has a degree in Theology from Spurgeon’s College and a Masters in Biblical Studies from King’s College London.  A Deacon and Trustee at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church he also finds time to act as a Stonewall School and Faith Role Model and in a faith context, as Co-Director of Affirm he’s a pioneer of LGBT+ inclusion within the Baptist Union of Great Britain. He is Co-Founder of Soho Gathering, and Faith & Belief Representative and Deputy Chair of the Community Advisory Board for London Pride and Committee Chair for Christians at Pride in London.

Luke is a fervent campaigner and fundraiser for LGBT+ rights in Albania, believing that at the core of Christian identity is the inclusion of the marginalised regardless of their beliefs or orientation, and he was recently appointed the first Patron for “Streha”: the first shelter for LGBTQ+ homeless young people in the Balkans.

Luke will also bring to OneBody a breadth of business management experience from his 8 years of working within the advertising industry in London, where he now provides Inclusion and Diversity training for corporate, charity and faith bodies.

Luke is married to Steven, the first same-gender marriage to be held at Bloomsbury Central Baptist and the first within the wider Baptist Union of Great Britain.

 

Stonewall 100: University chaplain and Affirm member named gay role model of the year

A university chaplain has thanked other Christians for “loving me just as I am” after being named Stonewall’s gay role model of the year.

Ray Vincent, associate chaplain at the University of South Wales, and a long standing Affirm member, received the award for championing LGBT equality within the workplace.

Read the story on the BBC site here.

 

Affirm’s Co-Director stands for president of Baptist Union

Here at Affirm we are thrilled to hear that Dawn Cole-Savidge, one of our co-directors, has been nominated for the presidency of Baptists Together in 2020-2021.

Dawn has prepared a statement and a testimonial video which can be seen here, along with similar statements from the other candidate, Yinka Oyekan.

Affirm’s other co-director, Luke Dowding, writes on Twitter “Her standing for nomination, and indeed the way in which she was nominated, is a powerful witness to her ministry and what I am certain will be a progressive, inspiring, and thought-provoking tenure as President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain should she be elected.”

Please encourage your church to use it’s voting power in Dawn’s favour. We will be praying for Dawn as the election proceeds.

Benny Hazelhurst: an inspiring life

Here at Affirm we were sad to hear that Rev Benny Hazelhurst passed away over Christmas, after a long battle with cancer.  Benny was a great support and friend to many of us for many years.

Affirm co-director Luke Dowding has written a beautiful tribute over at the One Body One Faith site. You can read Luke’s piece here

Two great events in London this December

We’ve just published details of two events in London in December, go to the events page for full details, including times and booking details.

An excellent opportunity here to enjoy a weekend in London with a Friday evening at Bloomsbury Central Baptist church, followed by a fantastic day conference at St john’s Church Waterloo. Too good an opportunity to miss? Why not treat yourself to a nice hotel?

The Complete Guide To Studying And Living in the UK as an LGBT Student

We were asked to provide a link to this very interesting article by Ella Stefannson, it’s well worth a read.

The Complete Guide To Studying And Living in the UK as an LGBT Student

Studying at a university is supposed to be about learning, growing intellectually, having fun and enjoying the student life at its fullest. But, for marginalized groups like LGBTs, more often than not it’s about exclusion and prejudice. Although most prejudice towards LGBT people that once were common and are now diminishing, studying as an LGBT student is still challenging.

Affirm launch event in October

A very special date for your diaries: 

Affirm is delighted to invite you to our gathering in October where we will be reflecting on our journey so far, and looking forward to the task ahead of us. We are delighted that Jamie Fletcher (A Queer, Trans, Non-Binary, Christian, Artist and Activist based in Leeds; she works freelance as a theatre and film director and musician, as well as having co-founded Queer Church Leeds) will be joining us to offer a keynote speech. We will be sharing in worship and communion with one another, as well as the chance to enjoy fellowship before and after the event. 

All are welcome to this event, there is no requirement to register and there is no fee. There will be an opportunity to make a gift towards the expenses of the day.

We would appreciate an e-mail if you are planning to come, please let us know how many people may be coming along with you, this will give us some idea of numbers. If you would rather just attend on the day that’s fine too, we respect your privacy.