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?
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 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.
The current rhetoric around faith sector inclusion of the LGBT+ community is disappointing.
It seems we are still a way away from understanding how we might hold different theological views but disagree respectfully.
Following a conversation with a few others of a view that faith sector leaders, ministers in local churches, were entitled, or perhaps even Biblically justified in excluding LGBT+ community from inclusive worship in Churches, I wrote the following poem.
I wonder if in a position of privilege and inclusion, from the perspective of a majority, exclusion and the impact of exclusion, is really understood.
This poem is one small snapshot of how it feels.
To members of the LGBT+ community and our friends and supporters, I say this. Grieve yes, it’s inevitable and necessary; but please, please do not walk away. Do not permit exclusion to become an acceptable norm. Stand. Stand up, together, join the conversation and we just might challenge the preconceptions. We will need to model how to disagree responsibly, respectfully and with grace.
I hope this video of the rehearsal for the Greatest Showman might inspire you.
The wrestle, Father
How can I be chosen for this, if no one here will have me?
How can I sustain this path, when the cost required breaks me?
Where can I go from here when my doubt threatens to swamp me?
The threat of displeasing you, the look in the eye of the other as they regard me.
I would prefer to retreat, to hide and to run
To leave this place to You
I am not what you think
I’m not big
I’m not strong
There is little left to renew
Yet I trust you and I love you, like there is nothing else
I give it all for you.
It brings me back, head bent,
With shoulders in-turned
Lost and alone
But with You.
I despair, I lose hope
I tremble and I fear
But I hear your gentle voice
You call to my heart
Remind me of where we have been
And encourage me to rejoice
Rejoice as I weep?
Rejoice as I wish
There was another path out of here.
Rejoice as I stumble
And fall to my knees
And beseech yet again
I hear that it’s not possible
That I can’t belong
Because of all that I am
And have been
You tell me there is hope
There is beauty
You play the strings laid in my heart
And so, I rise to my feet
Though I cannot lift my head
Cannot believe that You really mean me
As I rise I know that our journey has been precious
That it enables me to see
To see hope and restoration
In the hidden and the buried
In the places no one else will call home
To see future
To see purpose
To see the power of restoration
To know a place that you have crafted as Your own
I see radiance and enormity
Become a glimmer and a trickle
To small heart and souls that reach to You.
Souls that are hidden and abandoned
Buried beyond recognition
But treasured and embraced by You.
And so brokenly I travel
I journey by Your side
Resting and leaning as I go
Learning to discern, through the gift of your light
I wrote this review for the magazine ‘Progressive Voices’, but as one of the authors is Affirm’s own GemmaDunning, it seemed appropriate to reprint it here.
4 Views on Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers
Shelley Donaldson, Gemma Dunning, Nick Elio, Eric Woods (Mark Ostreicher, General Editor)
The Youth Cartel
This is the first in a proposed series of books, published by the Youth Cartel, presenting different views on contemporary topics. Each author presents their thoughts in an individual chapter, which is then responded to by one of the other authors.
Don’t pick up this book expecting a unified view on the subject matter. Whilst it is apparent that each of the authors has a passionate and caring heart for young people who are exploring their sexuality, it is equally clear that they don’t always agree with each other’s position. Their responses to each other are compassionate, thoughtful and well presented – most of the time. They each have a clear view of their own thoughts and debate strongly with each other, at times it turns into a bit of a bun fight as each seeks to examine their writing partner’s thoughts in the light of their own views and experience. I suppose that is what this book, and this series of books, is all about. LGBTQ teenagers need loving, caring, thoughtful pastoral care and each author has their own ideas about that.
Each author comes from a different background and brings their own personal understandings and religious background to the game. Three of the authors are American, whilst Gemma Dunning, a London based Baptist minister, is the sole UK representative. Liberal and (marginally) conservative views are represented. Three have a holistically inclusive viewpoint and, in sometimes differing ways, want to support and accept all young people into adulthood, whatever their gender identity or sexual orientation. One author takes the view that ultimately sexuality can be ‘remade’. A position that many readers will find distasteful to say the least, but at least his position is represented here.
Editor Mark Ostreicher sums up with final thoughts and some useful appendices that provide practical advice and resources. The book as a whole is at times inspiring and at other times exasperating. You, as a reader, will inevitably find material here that is helpful and supportive, alongside some that is frustrating, but on the whole, it is a book that will promote debate and discussion within churches, among youth leaders, pastors and counsellors and this debate can only be healthy and promote a deeper understanding.
Affirm Trustee Gemma Dunning has co-authored a recently published book ‘4 Views On Pastoring LGBTQ Teenagers’. Some of you will have been at the recent Two:23 event where the book was launched in London.
If you missed it there is another event taking place in Newport, South Wales and we’d love to see you there.
This is the latest in our series of videos, please share the link and use the video n your own churches and home groups if you find it useful. We’d love to hear from you with your thoughts about this or any of our resources, get in touch through the contacts page.
Charlotte is the pastor of a small Baptist Chapel in the South Wales Valleys. In this story she tells us about the journey that the church has been on towards a full affirmation of the LGBT+ community, which includes offering same sex marriage on equal grounds with heterosexual marriage.