For 2021 we are exploring one of our key values: “Offer sanctuary and be a safe space“ by adressing questions around how do we make our local church a safe space and offer sanctuary for everyone to grow and be nurtured.
Gathering Voices online conference this year brings together a range of organizations; Creating Sanctuary, Quest, Open Table Network, and OneBodyOneFaith to explore creating a safe Christian space for LGBTQIA+ people.
Our churches have not always been safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people and there will opportunities to share insights and experiences in the workshops, to begin to explore current challenges and ways to move towards creating safe spaces.
Gerard Swan: Sanctuary: created, experienced, offered or received
As LGBTQIA+ people, most of us have to work out who we are and then declare it to a world in which the norm is to grow into an assumption of straightness as the gender someone chose for us at birth. That journey is often undertaken without the guidance, support, and wisdom of parents and peers who are ‘like us’. For many of us, we need and seek surrogate support to guide us on our path. Our faith and the connectedness to something deep within us which calls us by our God-given name can make our coming out and our journey more complex, more challenging. Irrespective of identity and orientation we all have an innate need for Sanctuary – to be safe.
But as we live our LGBTQIA+ truth; what is the nature of the Sanctuary we need and seek?
Is it a destination or a journey?
Alex Clare-Young: Trans Safeguarding: Is it even a Thing?
Given the high level of trauma experienced by trans and non-binary people in faith-based contexts, I have worked with Creating Sanctuary to form a guide to trans-specific safeguarding in churches and faith-based groups and communities. In my presentation, I will discuss why this is necessary, why this is troubling, and how churches might do better.
Discussion and feedback
One of the main opportunities the conference gives is to explore our topics in more detail, and understand the lived experience of delegates. This also informs the panel discussion that takes place after the keynote speakers and group sessions.
We are pleased to present a video with contributions from Kieran Bohan and members of Open Table Network, Fr Julian Hollywell (Vicar of Spondon, Derby, UK), and members of Diverse Church to start our thoughts about creating sanctuary and safe spaces.
The songs used were:
- Instrument of Peace (Porter’s Gate) https://youtu.be/d0ZYPpqcIP0
- No Outsiders (Rend Collective) https://youtu.be/6J_Qu5esWM0
There are online resources that will help our ongoing discussion on issues related to creating sanctuary and safe spaces for LGBTQIA+peole in the church.
To get you started :
- Creating Sanctuary website has resources and training materials including the keynote talks from their 2020 conference with Oasis.
- Open Table Network also has resources, personal stories, and blog entries, for example A safe space in a dangerous time.
We also acknowledge the financial contribution of Accepting Evangelicals in enabling the conference.
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