On Thursday I said that I was hoping to make space at SURRENDER for folks to acknowledge where they are at with regards to sexual orientation and gender identity, and I am pretty happy with how that went. A number of people participated in the labyrinth on the Saturday and Sunday mornings while I was hosting the space, and also at other times when it wasn’t intentionally hosted. I also got to have conversations with several people who have more conservative views on this topic than I did, and I think we were able to hear where each other is coming from. We also received feedback from folks who said they appreciated knowing that there was some affirming presence at the conference. (Some of my friends were also hosting a space where people could come and chat about these things.)
For the sake of transparency I thought I should post here the statement that I provided at the labyrinth. If anyone has suggestions about how I can imporve this, please let me know. (My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d prefer to contact me privately.)
LGBTIQ Acknowledgement Labyrinth
We’re coming here with different perspectives. The unity of Christians is in Christ, not in the perspectives we hold.
One thing I think we should all be able to agree on is that Jesus loves and accepts us all as we are – but it is something that has often been forgotten by the church in our treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer people.
Whatever our perspective, we should all be able to agree that the church should be sorry for the harm it has caused to people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. this is a space for the church to acknowledge the presence of LGBTIQ people in the church.
- to acknowledge without reservation that the church has often caused harm in its response to LGBTIQ people
- to acknowledge that LGBTIQ people have often been pushed out of church communities
- to acknowledge that many LGBTIQ people who have been able to stay part of the church have faced restrictions on their involvement
- to acknowledge that there are things we have struggled to understand about human sexuality and identity
- to mourn the loss of LGBTIQ people who have taken their own lives as a result of hateful treatment
- to celebrate the contributions that LGBTIQ people have made to the church in spite of opposition
- to acknowledge that the church needs to begin listening to LGBTIQ people and to commit to doing this in our own contexts
If there is something you’d like to acknowledge, please feel free to take a ribbon, walk the labyrinth with it, and tie it onto the cross. (If you like, you can write your acknowledgement on the ribbon.)
As we walk the labyrinth, we often have to make space for people coming from the opposite direction. In these situations it’s often someone who is travelling in the direction that we were previously taking. We have to work out how we’ll share the space and pass each other. I think this can show us something about sharing space with people we don’t agree with.
If this space has brought up anything that you would like to talk about, I’m more than happy to discuss this and share how my own limited perspective on this has developed over the years. – Chris Booth 04– — —