Lesbian & gay Christians
CONVENORS Nigel & Maggie
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We are a local group, covering the whole of Sussex. We hold regular meetings, acts of Worship and social activities. We also walk with other Faith groups in Brighton Pride each year. In addition, we are working closely with Changing Attitude Sussex, and at present are working together to complete a survey of Gay friendly churches in Brighton and Hove and throughout Sussex. The results of this survey will be published on completion.
Over the last year we have continued to work closely with Changing Attitude Sussex, particularly in regard to a joint Survey of gay friendly churches, beginning in Brighton & Hove, with Anglican Churches, then extending to all Christian denominations within the city, before going out to the whole Diocese of Chichester, which both our groups cover.
To obtain support for the joint survey, we have met with the Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops and with the local leader of the Methodist churches; all these leaders have given us their support, and encouraged their clergy to support the survey. It has undoubtedly been the case that there has been much greater force in there being two LGBT organisations writing to the churches, rather than one, and the results have been very encouraging in that most churches have put themselves in the Accepting category. This work will continue. To date, we have had around 90 replies from churches. The full results of the survey will be available shortly.
There has also been a local Quest group, for Roman Catholics, starting up in our area, so there has been some joint working with them, and their Convenor, Ricky, has spoken to our group. There has also been consideration of how better to meet the pastoral needs of LGBT Roman Catholics in the Brighton area, and there have been discussions with founder members of the Soho Masses, in thinking about creative pastoral approaches to the Catholic Community in Sussex.
At the same time as encouragement from our joint survey, we have locally had to deal with some quite nasty homophobia in the form of a blog from one of our local churches. At one point I was even named in this blog, despite the moderator of the blog not letting me post any replies directly; however, complaints from National LGCM and from many of our local members, including to our MP’s, has now resulted in the tone of the blog seeming to change. This will be kept under review, and if need be, more representation will be made to his Bishop.
Among our activities over the last year were acts of Worship, an outing to the Bluebell Railway, a talk from Fr Jim Foley on what the Old Testament has to say about Lesbian and Gay people, a very inspiring Sermon at our Eucharist from Fr Martin Morgan on supporting gay unions in church and of course our participation in Brighton Pride, followed by a Service of Welcome for Pride at St John’s Church, Preston Park. (Please see the enclosed picture of the Service of Welcome for Pride)
Another first for us over the past year has been the joint Brighton LGCM and Changing Attitude Sussex Carol Service. Despite atrocious weather conditions, there were around fifty people present for a moving Service followed by socialising over mulled wine and mince pies
It has been very good to continue our links with the London 3F group, and now very good to have made links with our neighbouring Southampton LGCM group; both Keith Sharpe and I have separately spoken to their group, and some of their members will be joining us this year at Brighton Pride on September 1st.
Later this year, we will be hosting an LGBT day at All Saints, Hove on October 6th. I am very pleased that Sharon will be joining us for this and will no doubt update us on national developments. I am hoping to have some emphasis on Trans issues for this event, as well as a number of other workshops and shared liturgy.
For the next year, we hope to strengthen our links with neighbouring local LGCM groups, and hopefully more joint working. The joint work on the survey will continue and expand more widely to all Christian denominations. The results of this will help LGBT Christians be well informed about where they can expect a welcome, and to know where we can be ourselves.
Working with other LGBT groups and a variety of churches and Church leaders has been a theme of the last year. This work will continue. There is strength in numbers, not only as a force to be reckoned with, but in sharing ideas and a vision.
Brighton & Hove LGCM Convenor