Why I am an Evangelical gay Christian…

This week, Jeremy Marks writes on being Evangelical and Gay…

Having spent most of my adult life in the evangelical church, thinking, believing and living as an evangelical Christian, being an evangelical is second nature to me. In recent years, my view of the gay issue has radically changed—from a traditional viewpoint, believing that to call oneself a “gay Christian” is an oxymoron—to full acceptance of my homosexuality as a gift from God. 

Many of my evangelical friends (who believe me to be seriously deceived in this) tell me that I cannot call myself an evangelical anymore, insisting that I have given up the true orthodox faith as entrusted to the saints (Ephesians 3:8).  It has been extremely painful to lose many friends who I have truly loved as brothers and sisters in the faith, because they now believe me to be deceived. Worse still, they see my ministry of pastoral care and support as “misguided” and to be leading vulnerable people down a slippery slope into deception. “Faithful are the wounds of friends” (Proverbs 27:6)!  Or are they?

It has taken me years to recognise this, but I have begun to see that it is surely they, not I, who should be questioning their evangelical credentials. Because as I understand it, the word “evangel”, from which the word comes, simply means “Good News”, or “Gospel”, and an evangelical is one who believes in and shares the good news of Jesus Christ. In fact, being an evangelical has nothing whatever to do with what you believe about being gay or straight; nor has it anything to do with rejecting or accepting one’s homosexuality. It is all about receiving the Good News of Jesus Christ by faith and making Him known to others.

When I began “Courage” in 1988—a ministry that provides a safe place of fellowship for lesbian and gay Christians to develop their spiritual journey, through worship, prayer and Bible study, I accepted the traditional view, as taught. In those days, we saw homosexuality as a diabolically-inspired temptation to pursue a deviant lifestyle that parodies heterosexual marriage in defiance of God’s good creation plan—in which all are created heterosexual. As gay people, we believed ourselves to be deviant heterosexuals (Romans 1:26,27) who had somehow been tricked into believing a lie about ourselves. We believed that we needed to be renewed in our minds, and that to achieve this we must uncompromisingly set our face against any worldly temptation to live a “gay lifestyle” (Romans 12:1,2).

From our traditional evangelical standpoint, seeking to resist such temptation and to encourage one another to overcome seemed to be a laudable goal. In reality, it subtly shifted our focus away from the joy we had found in Christ to the pursuit of “self-improvement”, which became an idol. The fruit of such idolatry was a miserable reward for all who pursued the ‘ex-gay’ process. Many became deeply depressed and full of inner conflict; some lost their faith altogether—the complete opposite of our objective, which was to help people to grow in their Christian lives. We were slow to learn; but after years of seeing the catastrophic consequences of such an approach, we eventually came to understand the concept of “overcoming” in a different way: it had to mean embracing our true God-given sexual orientation, overcoming our neurosis about sexuality, and finding healing from the corrosive damage of internalised homophobia, brought about by years of trying to conform to social pressure. Then we can serve Christ fully as the people He wants us to be.

Over my 24 years of ministry, I have come to see so clearly that when people take their eyes off the all-important task of making the Good News of Jesus Christ known (ensuring of course that one’s own life is rooted and grounded in the love of Christ—Ephesians 3:16), then they become plagued with inner conflicts and lose heart.  This happens, I believe, when we allow our focus to be misdirected into preoccupation with our failings and the need for self-improvement. 

 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12) 

We lose our joy in Christ when we devote our time and energies to fighting who we are— and eventually lose our faith altogether.  When Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Matthew 12:25), the context was a little different, but the observation could not be more apt for our situation. Repentance is not about trying not to be gay; repentance is about turning away from living by our wits and our own understanding (Proverbs 3:3-7). A holy and righteous life is a life lived by faith in what Christ has done for us. In serving Christ we become whole. This is the Good News that every evangelical Christian is glad to share above all else.

As a gay Christian man I give thanks to God that I have been able to rediscover my true evangelical roots and recover my joy and salvation in Christ. It has been a great privilege to help others find their way along this path too. Thanks be to God—my sins have been forgiven, including those covert sins of internalised homophobia and self-hatred that tempted me into the spurious pursuit of self-improvement through my own endeavours. My hope for life in Christ has been restored together with my self-respect. This is the fruit of true evangelicalism I believe. 

For further study, may I recommend an excellent article by Dr Roy Clements, “What is an Evangelical?” (www.courage.org.uk/articles/article.asp?id=147 ). 

Jeremy Marks: Jeremy@courage.org.uk

You can also read Jeremy’s talk “A Change in the Tide?” which he persented to our Second Annual Meeting  AE Annual Meeting talk June 2011

Powerful New Stories to read and pass on…

This week we feature two stories from women which powerfully express the anger, frustration and hurt which discrimination causes in the Church.

The first is a new story on the AE Stories page, from a lesbian who does not yet feel able to be open in her church, but who has felt powerfully affirmed by God in both her faith and sexuality.

The second is via a link to Lesley’s Blog and is written by a bisexual Christian who has suffered as result of being open about her sexuality and same-sex partnerhip.

Both stories evoke strong reactions, and cannot be ignored.  Please read them and pass them on.

Newsletter – June 2011

Dear Friends

AE Annual Meeting  …

Our Annual Meeting is almost upon us – for the full agenda for the afternoon  click here – Annual Meeting Agenda – 11th June 2011

Saturday  11th June  3 – 5pm 

 St Andrews Church Waterloo  – less than 5 minutes walk  from either Waterloo Station or Southwark Tube (Jubilee Line)

Jeremy Marks – the founder and Director of Courage will be speaking on “A Change in the Tide” and there will be opportunity to review the past year as well as plan for the future.  

It would be great see many of you there.  If you are able to come, it would help us if you could let us know by email:  benny@acceptingevangelicals.org   

Follow this link to find the venue –  St Andrews Waterloo.  

Presbyterians and Lutherans signal change…

As we reported in the AE Blog, The Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted to remove the ban on openly homosexual ministers, elders and deacons. but now there is more.

Soon after, the Church of Scotland took an important step towards recognising that God can call homosexuals to ministry.  Its General Assembly has voted to allow the appointment of openly gay ministers already ordained to new posts, while it further looks into the issue of training and ordination.

And the Lutheran Church in Italy also decided last month to offer services of Blessing to homosexual couples.

More controversy in the Church of England…

Meanwhile the Church of England has seen a new round of controversy arise as more details have immerged about the blocking of Dr Jeffrey John as a potential Bishop of Southwark last year. 

Members of the Crown Nominations Commission who decide on such top jobs are bound by strict confidentiality, but following the death of Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark Cathedral, his family have chosen to make public his account of the meeting.

The story was broken in the Guardian newspaper, and has caused a flurry of responses, few of which make comfortable reading for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Pilgrimage of repentance for homophobia

Symon Hill, a Christian writer and activist, is walking from Birmingham to London this month as a pilgrimage of repentance for his former homophobia. He will speak at churches on the way, praying with others and engaging in dialogue.

 The walk will run from 16th June to 1st July. Symon, who is associate director of the Ekklesia thinktank, will join the Pride march in London the day after his arrival. There will be three city centre events, open to people of all religions and none, whatever their views on sexuality.

  • Birmingham – 7.00pm, Wednesday 15th June, Carr’s Lane Church (the evening before the walk starts)
  • Oxford – Sunday 26th June, St Columba’s United Reformed Church (time to be confirmed)
  • London – 7.00pm, Friday 1st July, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church (the day Symon arrives in London)

 Symon will pass through other towns and cities, including Coventry, Leamington Spa, Daventry, Banbury, Bicester, Chesham and Watford. Find out more at http://www.repenting.wordpress.com or watch out for details on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Walk-of-repentance-for-homophobia/172048302829171.

 Christians at Pride …

And finally, there will be a strong Christian presence again this year on Saturday 2nd July at London Pride, organised by Christians at Pride.

Last year over 120 people LGBT Christians, their friends and relatives marched together at London Pride, wearing T-shirts which proclaimed “Christian and Proud”.  It was a powerful statement to the LGBT community that there is support for LGBT Christians and that God loves us with, rather than despite, our sexualities.

 Accepting Evangelicals is proud to be part of this organization.  Come if you can – further information and T-shirts are available from the Christians at Pride website.

 God Bless and Keep You…

Accepting Evangelicals

 

Presbyterian Church USA accepts gay ministry

Earlier this month, The Presbyterian Church (USA) became the latest mainline denomination to formally vote to accept the ministry of LGBT Christians, including those in relationships.

The nationwide church of over 2m members had approved the change at its General Assembly last year, but that vote had to be confirmed by a majority of its regional Presbyteries before it could be enacted.  This majority was achieved in Minneapolis on the 10th May.

In making the change, the Presbyterian Church joins a growing number of mainline denominations in welcoming the ministry of openly gay people.  These churches include:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Episcopal Church (Anglican) in the USA
The United Church of Christ (USA)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden
The Church of Norway
The Evangelical Church of Denmark
 

Although ‘Evangelical’ in this context often means ‘Protestant’ (ie not Roman Catholic) there are prominent evangelical supporters of such changes including Jack Rogers in the Presbyterian Church.  Jack Rogers is a former Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and he describes his own journey from active opposition in his book, ‘Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality’ as well as charting a biblical theology for accepting and celebrating same-sex relationships.

The change is not without controversy however, and the debate will continue to evoke strong feelings among both progressive and conservative parts of the denomination.  The new openness is also permissive rather than compulsory.  Local congregations  will continue to appoint deacons, elders and ministers themselves, and more conservative congregations are almost certain to choose candidates who will follow a more conservative line – but the blanket ban on openly gay ministers has been removed.

For more information, views and reflections, please see…

The Presbyterian Church website’s announcement:
http://www.pcusa.org/news/2011/5/10/presbyterian-church-us-approves-change-ordination/
 
A well considered reflection by a Presbyterian Minister:
Is LGBTQ Ordination a Change or a Challenge for the Presbyterian Church (USA)?
 
Benny’s Blog – A good day in Minneapolis
 
 

Spring Harvest turns down the heat

This week AE Member Alex Huzzy reflects on Spring Harvest 2011 which he attended with a number of other members of AE…

This evening at Spring Harvest, the main speaker spoke about those times when Christians really get it wrong. The times when we not only fail to communicate the love of God effectively, but actually make other people feel that God hates them. He mentioned lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in this context.

During the prayers after the talk, he urged people to go and call the son whose wedding they didn’t go to, or the daughter they’d disowned. The message was clear – nobody falls outside the love of God, and where we have made others believe that God hates them, that hatred has come from ourselves, not from God.

He also made that point that it is our actions as well as our words which have communicated this hatred.

I thought this was a really interesting point. Few UK Christians would overtly proclaim that God hated LGBT people in the manner of Fred Phelps. But you could argue that the actions of the church have spoken louder than words. Seeing prominent Christians channelling thousands of pounds of their own money into maintaining legislation like Section 28, hearing prominent Christian pressure groups campaigning to be able to bar gay people from their businesses or from adopting children, even hearing Christians trying to justify why LGBT people are not worthy to teach or be in leadership in church. All of these have sent out a clear message to LGBT people – we don’t like you, you’re not as good as we are, and we don’t want you in our churches.

Now what was interesting was that no reappraisal on the traditional view of human sexuality was called for or even hinted at. In fact, the speaker referred to ‘lifestyles we cannot condone’ and ‘choices we do not agree with’, the kind of misleading language which anybody with any experience of LGBT people would realise was unhelpful. But there was a significant shift in priority. The most important priority for the church should no longer be to make LGBT people realise how wrong they are, but rather to make LGBT people feel how loved they are. It doesn’t mean that we have to pretend that we all agree on our interpretation of the Bible, but rather simply that we begin to take seriously those much-quoted words of Billy Graham – ‘God judges, the Holy Spirit convicts, it’s our job just to love’.

That’s what is so great about Accepting Evangelicals. It’s not about whether you agree with same-sex relationships or not. It is about standing up for a truth we can all agree on; that God deeply, passionately and unconditionally loves everybody. It’s about recognising that the church which makes LGBT people feel that God hates them does more damage to the Gospel than the church which extends an unconditional welcome to all, regardless of their beliefs about sexuality.

Imagine the church which seeks to extend a full, hearty and unconditional welcome to LGBT people. A church which encourages LGBT people to come on in and worship, pray and study the Bible alongside everyone else. A church which believes that belonging and being in community is more important than believing ‘the right thing’ about same-sex relationships. Isn’t that preferable to the church which demands full compliance with a set of moral tickboxes before it allows people to get involved?

The problem is that actually being in the welcoming church is much less comfortable for all concerned. For those who hold to the traditional view, it’s uncomfortable hanging out with people whose relationships you don’t understand or agree with. For LGBT people, it’s profoundly uncomfortable hanging out with those who believe that your relationship, your family, or your gender identity is wrong, damaging or unbiblical. But maybe that’s where God would have us be, united in a commitment to love and respect one another, rather than publicly trying to exclude, undermine and reject one another.

Urgent Action Required …

The Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill which could bring in the death penalty for some homosexuals has restarted its passage through parliament.

The bill was first introduced in 2009 but stalled after a wave of international protest.

But today a parliamentary committee in Uganda held a second day of hearings on putting it to a vote in the Ugandan parliament this week.   Further information can be found in an article by Associated Press (AP).

Protests to the Ugandan government have proved to be effective in the past and many evangelical groups (both progressive and conservative) joined the outcry.

To act today please visit http://www.allout.org/en/petition/uganda and sign up to the on line petition. 

There may be as little as 72 hours in which to act.  Please act now…

Newsletter – May 2011

Dear Friends

We hope you had a wonderful Easter – here are a few pieces of news from around the world this month and an important invitation.

AE Annual Meeting  …

You are warmly invited to our 2nd Annual Meeting in London next month:

  • ·        Saturday  11th June
  • ·        3- 5pm
  • ·        St Andrews Church Waterloo
  • ·        less than 5 minutes walk  from either Waterloo Station or Southwark Tube (Jubilee Line)

All members of Accepting Evangelicals are warmly invited to

  • ·         pray and worship together
  • ·         review the past year and discuss ideas for the year ahead,
  • ·         appoint trustees and steering group for the coming year

St Andrew’s church is on Short Street (SE1 8LJ) which is just opposite the famous Young Vic Theatre.

If you are able to come, it would help us if you could let us know by email:  benny@acceptingevangelicals.org

See this link  for how to find the venue –  St Andrews Waterloo.  

Gay marriage debate continues …

Since the publication of ‘Towards a Theology of Gay Marriage?’ in the Church of England Newspaper at the beginning of March, not a week has gone by without the debate continuing in the Britain’s leading Evangelical Newspaper.

That is not to say that all the contributions have been positive.  Last week letters page contained an piece  directly attacking  ‘the rise of the group Accepting Evangelicals’, along with Andrew Marin from the USA who has been a speaker at Spring Harvest for the last 2 years.  According to the writer of the letter, there is a link between pro-gay groups and  those who want to accept women in church leadership, as both have rejected Paul’s teachings.

Letters can, as always, be sent to the Editor at the CEN – email address:  letters@churchnewspaper.com

You can also read a more balanced appraisal of Andrew Marin’s book “Love is an Orientation” on the Fulcrum website:  http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=456

Transgender recognition in Pakistan

T’s are too often forgotten in evangelical debates around sexuality and gender.  Yet they suffer continuing prejudice, violence and discrimination, often at a much higher level than other groups.

In the news recently were 2 items which were striking on Transgender.  The first was the vicious prolonged attack on a transgender woman by 2 young women in a McDonald’s in Baltimore, filmed by a McDonald’s employee and put up on YouTube.  It shows the dangers that transgender people face in ordinary day to day life.  More encouraging was the peaceful protest which took place against this attack which included faith groups.  For more information see: http://www.lgbtqnation.com

Elsewhere, in Pakistan – a country not known for its progressive views, Transsexuals have now been recognised as an official gender category on national identity cards.  If such a conservative country (both politically and religiously) can make such a bold move, perhaps there is hope for others.  More information at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13192077

Maze – a safe space in Durham …

AE member Sally has asked us to publicise the group MAZE which is a safe space for LGB and T people in Durham city centre (UK)  for fellowship, worship, and building discipleship. For more information. please contact Sally at sallyitfcrush@btinternet.com

And finally – “I preached against homosexuality but I was wrong”

These are the words of Presbyterian Minister, Murray Richmond, who has changed his mind over gay relationships.  You can read his story and his reasons at:  http://www.salon.com

God Bless and Keep You…

Accepting Evangelicals

 

An Easter Greeting …

Having just journeyed through the events of Holy Week and Easter, I am struck once again by the immeasurable love which Christ showed to us in his death and resurrection.

Betrayed, abandoned, and denied by his friends.  Mocked, beaten and ridiculed by the religious and secular authorities.  Stripped, crucified, and left to die – his only words regarding those who treated him so unjustly were “Father forgive them”.

Yet, as we now know, in his death he took on all the sin, injustice and cruelty of the world – and as he died, its power died with him.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities…
and by his wounds we are healed.”  (Isaiah 53:5) 

 

And  as we come to celebrate Easter, we celebrate even more…  We celebrate the door which Jesus opened to eternal life, by rising from the grave.  Such a mystery is truly too great for us ever to fully grasp, even in 1,000 Easters – but by the miracle of his resurrection and his invitation to us, we can have peace with God our Father and be born again of the Spirit, that we too may share in his eternal life.

This miraculous wonder is at the very heart of the Gospel. 

It is what makes us brothers and sisters in Christ, part of one body with Christ as the head.  Faith in this gospel unties us in a way which nothing can divide.  

“There is one body and one Spirit,
just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 
one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 
one God and Father of all,
who is above all and through all and in all.”   (Ephesians 4:4-6)

 

So this Easter, may we all celebrate the wondrous truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that no matter what our disagreements might be, we are indelibly united in Christ.

And this Easter, may the love and peace and blessing of Christ go out to all our brothers and sisters in Christ – affirming or not, accepting or not, theologically conservative or progressive – for when it comes down to it, Christ died and rose again for us all. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
 so that everyone who believes in him may not perish
but may have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

 

Benny Hazlehurst

Another Perspecitve

This week, an article by AE member Dr John Pike, who has been inspried by reading the personal accounts on our Stories Page.  He are his reflections …

On these pages you will find many testimonies from people who have suffered much heartache as a result of their sexual orientation. Their accounts are honest, direct and deeply moving. They are often tragic accounts of how Holy Scripture has been used incorrectly against individuals who have no control over this aspect of their being. God, in his infinite wisdom, has created them as our companions and they are deeply loved by Him.

You will also find excellent studies of what scripture has to say about this, setting the texts in context, both of the times and of their precise position in the Bible story. As Christians, we should study the Bible carefully and prayerfully and ask God to reveal himself to us.  It is for each individual to respond with their own understanding and in their own conscience. But however hard we study scripture, our understanding will only ever be partial.

As well as being fully God, Jesus was also fully Human. When people suffered, he grieved, he wept, he cured them, he forgave them, he met them where they were and showed them love. As humans, I believe it is our Christian calling to respond to our fellow human beings as Jesus did.

St Paul

St Paul tells us:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

In these beautiful verses I think we find the key to how we should approach our brothers and sisters with a different sexual orientation, given that our understanding of all things is only partial.

Jesus commanded us to love one another, to love our neighbours as ourselves, to forgive one another, and to treat one another as we would want to be treated ourselves.

I am a heterosexual and married man. I am also an evangelical Christian who, after studying what scripture has to say about this, thinks we must also respond as human beings, with love, like Jesus, to all men, whatever their creed, colour, religion, sexual orientation or particular sins. We are all sinners and none of us would be saved were it not for his one time perfect sacrifice.  

Below you will find literature from outside the Bible that has come to mind as I formed my personal view on this issue.

Prayer of St Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
 

John Wesley

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

If you have an article which you would like us to consider posting on the website, please email it to benny@acceptingevangelicals.org   We will be very happy to let you know if it would be appropriate for publication.

 

What a great weekend!

AE Co-Chair, Sigrun Wagner reflects on a successful weekend away….

 

Last weekend saw the first joint retreat of the Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Christians (EFLGC) and Courage at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre on the Norfolk/Suffolk border

 The topic was “Set Apart: Why God Needs Gay Christians in the 21st Century Church” and the speaker was Justin Lee, from North Carolina in the States, founder and director of the Gay Christian Network (GCN).

 Although a joint retreat had been discussed for a number of years, just 10-15 years ago, a joint EF/Courage conference would have been unthinkable due to the very different stance the two organisations had taken on homosexuality.

 In the early 1990s, Courage ran a succession of discipleship programmes with a view to helping people ‘come out’ of homosexuality. However, practical experience proved this to be a counter-productive approach. Through years of pastoral experience, they  listened to the Holy Spirit afresh and pursued further scriptural study on the issues. The result was change of heart, recognising that God supports and blesses sincere committed relationships between gay people.  As a result, Courage slowly moved to an accepting and affirming view.

Justin Lee’s talks were gospel-centred, inspirational, entertaining and very relevant. A particular highlight was the talk, which started on the so-called clobber verses (at which point some audience members silently sighed and thought “oh no, not again”) and then put these verses into context: instead of focusing on the defensive attitude LGBT Christians tend to take towards the clobber verses, Justin focused on the positive aspects of what Jesus and Paul have to say on the subject of relationships (Matthew 22, Mark 12, Romans 13):

Love the Lord your God.
Love your neighbour as yourself.
Love does no harm to its neighbour.
Love is the fulfilment of the law.

 

It was very encouraging to hear a biblically based affirmation of loving, faithful committed LGBT relationships, which not only do not harm their neighbours, but rather contribute positively to society by their demonstration of love and grace.

 For some LGBT Christians it is all too easy to lick their wounds but Justin encouraged his listeners to be positive and confident about what they can contribute to church in the 21st century, sharing their experience and opening up an understanding in the church of what it means to be gay and Christian and they can offer to the church.

 It is interesting to note the perspective GCN has decided to take on the issue. It makes the theological distinction between the so-called Side A and Side B – Side A standing for Christians who believe God fully affirms gay people and their relationships while Side B Christians take an accepting stance on LGBT people and a celibate view on relationships. This connects well with the accepting and affirming stance Accepting Evangelicals takes in its welcome.

 The sessions always started with worship, and culminated in a Communion Service on Sunday after the last talk. The service was held in the chapel of the conference centre and the sound of 60+ men and 20+ women filled the room and was very moving. The fellowship that characterises these weekends is something very special and the diversity of old and young participants, gay and (a handful of) straight, the general mix of people makes this a safe space.

 The film Through my Eyes, made by GCN was shown and is recommended viewing (purchasable on the GCN website). Saturday night featured Courage/EF has got talent, which witnessed a great range of gifts, starting and ending with renditions of Amazing Grace – fitting for a weekend such as this.

 The venue and food were a great choice and the weekend ended with a session of feedback and sharing which demonstrated the fruit that can be wonderfully recognised in the faith and lives of LGBT people.

 Recordings from the talks can be obtained by contacting Courage.