LGBT+ History Month provides a special opportunity to give thanks for the extraordinary contribution of LGBT+ people to the life of the church and the world. Yet it comes at a time when we are acutely aware of the sense of vulnerability that so many LGBT+ clergy and laity feel in the life of the church, and particularly in our diocese in the wake of the tragic death of Fr Alan Griffin.
A recent survey by the Ozanne Foundation found that only one third of LGBT+ Christians felt ‘safe to be out’ in their local churches and just one in five feel ‘safe to be out in the wider Christian community’. At the same time, an article in the Church Times referenced the work of the main LGBT+ secular youth service in London, who find that an increasing number of LGBT+ teenagers are expressing an interest in spirituality and faith.
Here in our diocese the College of Bishops has agreed to the setting up of an LGBT+ Advisory Group which the two of us will jointly chair and which will advise the Senior Staff team on the pastoral care and inclusion of LGBT+ people in the life of our church communities.
Commenting on this decision, Bishop Sarah said, “I warmly welcome the setting up of the new Advisory Group in making everyone feel as safe as possible and in bringing about the ‘radical new Christian inclusion… founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it’ for which the Archbishops have called. This initiative acknowledges the gratitude of the Diocese for the unique life and contribution of LGBT+ people to the church in London. The group will advise the Senior Staff as we seek to ensure safety, welcome and a transformed sense of belonging within all our churches”.
The Ven John Hawkins and the Revd Jonathan Kester
Co-Chairs of the London Diocese LGBT+ Advisory Group