'The purpose of the event was to raise awareness among faith leaders of LGBT+ loss of life to suicide and wider experience of harm, following exclusion and mistreatment in church environments.'
Paul Parker, recording clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting, said that he was ‘moved to tears’ at a memorial service last week, held to remember LGBT+ people who’ve been harmed or died as a result of the trauma induced by rejection by their Christian communities.
Taking to social media, he tweeted: ‘So much more to do to make our worshipping communities fully welcoming and affirming of all.’
The memorial service was organised by OneBodyOneFaith, a group that aims to empower LGBT+ Christians, by advocating for change. It said: ‘We have already been encouraged by the number of faith leaders willing to attend.’
The purpose of the event was to raise awareness among faith leaders of LGBT+ loss of life to suicide and wider experience of harm, following exclusion and mistreatment in church environments.
Andrea King, co-chair of OneBodyOneFaith, said that ‘the loss of life of LGBT+ persons to suicide, following rejection and harm in church communities, has rarely featured as part of the national dialogue and has often been treated with insensitivity. It is imperative that this loss of life of LGBT+ people is recognised, grieved over, and remembered.’
Listeners from The Samaritans provided pastoral support on the day as well as a dedicated helpline run by Papyrus. The service was held at Hinde Street Methodist Church, London on 23 April.
OneBodyOneFaith tweeted: ‘Today was a significant moment in our journey to a safer, healthier, more inclusive church for all.’
Alan Wilson, an Anglican bishop, shared a message of support ahead of the service: ‘I deeply regret the times LGBT+ issues have been spoken of in church as if they are a matter of ideas, when in fact it is about recognising God-given human dignity in real people’s lives. People matter more than ideologies, above all, surely, to those who claim to be following Jesus.’
The group also runs Rhythm, a weekly online prayer space for LGBT+ Christians.
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