One of those things was the announcement of Diverse Church which is a sister organisation to the Two:23 Network. This is a supportive organisation for young people aged 18-30 who are within evangelical churches. It has a closed Facebook page and as I understand it has a focus on discipleship and mission as well as support. Seeing the welcome this new group received on Twitter this week, from people with differing positions with regards to LGBandT issues, was heart warming.
Another bud of hope was the announcement of the Two:23 network they are having an extra meeting in June. In May they have respected Sociologist Dr. Kristin Aune, co-author of Reclaiming the F Word and Christianity and the University Experience: Understanding Student Faith amongst other books. The development of this network over the last couple of years into a space for Christians to come together to worship together and grow in understanding and discipleship has been important. Aune is speaking in an earlier meeting than planned as Bishop Alan Wilson has had to reschedule. Bishop Alan has recently spoken at the Changing Attitude Unadulterated Love event.
Additionally this week I read on Twitter that two figures who have had a significant role in helping try to move the dialogue on LGBandT issues forward in evangelical circles met together for the first time. This may seem like a small step forward but I regard the way in which people with particular giftings seem to be coming together as another sign of hope. One of these figures was Vicky Beeching who also tweeted this week she will be speaking on the topic of LGBT Theology at Greenbelt this year.
The announcement by Accepting Evangelicals that they have now launched a YouTube channel is another small but significant step forward. Amongst the videos is one with a couple who have also been involved in leading Affirming Baptists, a network which has been going for over a decade and which appears to have a new, much more visually attractive website.
As I decide to take a look around the websites of various organisations to assess what the current situation is I was pleased to see on the Inclusive Church website that Dartman, Longman and Todd are publishing a series of books on inclusion; the first two being one on Disability by John Hull and the second on Mental Health by Jean Vanier. The series also includes one on Sexuality by Susannah Cornwell. The Quest site for Catholic LGBT Christians in the UK had an interesting review of Faithful to the Truth: How to be an orthodox gay Christian on their site.
On the subject of books Queering Religion; Religious Queers edited by Yvette Taylor and Ria Snowden is launched in June. Linked to some of the material referred to in this book The Weeks Centre based at Southbank University is putting some of the material collected during their Making Space for Queer Identifying Religious Youth project together for an art exhibition.
With regard to Outcome the organisation which exists to support LGBT people (but primarily has it's focus on L and G) within the Methodist Church it is good to see that they have the President of Conference joining them to lead worship at their forthcoming Annual Public Meeting.
It has also been good to see the growth of the recognition of the T within many of these groups and so the support for that group is available more widely. It has also been good to see the start of a wider recognition of the B (bisexuals). One of the key figures who has helped the recognition and integration of the T is Rachel Mann a trans, lesbian, Anglican priest who is also an author and speaker. Her book Dazzling Darkness has helped take recognition and understanding forward in a significant way. Mann has been one of the first speakers for LGBT Christian Fellowship Hull and East Riding, one of a number of new regional groups emerging. Another aspect, highlighted on the Quaker Lesbian and Gay Fellowship (QLGF) site is the openness the new head of Stonewall has shown to working with the Trans community.
With regards to other established groups MCC continues to grow as a denomination. LGCM I note has Prof Robin Gill speaking at their forthcoming Annual General Conference. The blurb on the LGCM website quotes Gill as saying, "From my study of the Synoptic Jesus I have concluded that four virtues are especially important and distinctive, namely: compassion, care, faith and humility (together with a strong condemnation of hypocrisy). I would plan to talk at some length about these four virtues and one condemnation which I believe are crucial for all interpersonal relationships, including sexuality".
One of the things I find so exciting about all this is the way in which LGBT Christian events are now not ghettos where the politics or pain are exclusively focused upon. It's not about sharing sad stories and getting angry now, although support is still there and the fight for equal rights and recognition does continue. What has happened is a shift to worship, theological reflection and discipleship building as the core themes. There is also a greater support from straight allies and blurring of the lines between who is gay, straight, bi or trans. Speakers are speakers who are good and relevant their orientation is no longer an issue, the focus is now on the content of their message.
*Note in preview the last paragraph is showing up in a different font, no idea why it is doing this and can't seem to fix it so apologies.