I always look forward to renewing friendships that I have made during the 15 years I have been going to EF conferences. Not only is it great to be able to discuss openly problems relating to one’s sexuality in the Church and the world at large, but my experiences have also helped me personally to finally put an end to my problems relating to shyness.
The Friday evening welcome gathering was unusual in that we were being asked to suggest questions anonymously, serious or frivolous, for the members of the committee. These varied from the very serious (mine!) to what colour socks they were wearing.
When I had read in advance of the conference that our speaker was from the anglo-catholic tradition of the Church of England I was somewhat unsure of how it would go as I am from the low-church C of E tradition. Indeed not have worried, however.
Our speaker started off on Saturday with his first session entitled ‘Salt: coming out as Gay in the Church’. He pointed out that Christ had died for all, straight, lesbian, gay and bisexual, and including the most evil people we can think of. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said ‘you are the salt of the earth‘.
Our speaker went on to say that it is important for the church that we are all there. The church has belittled so many LGBs that they lose their faith. We must not allow this to happen, as we are all needed in the church – remember, we are a minority within a minority. We are not necessarily ungodly, and by keeping our faith with God and by seen as going to church we will draw others to it.
He continued by saying that the church had been left behind by the sexual world and has lost its way on such matters. We are explorers trying to work out in a new territory how we work and act. He said that we should challenge the church on heterosexuality, not only on homosexuality. We are more Christian than are some Christian marriages.
In a later session we discussed among ourselves in groups our own individual experiences as LGB within the church. Finally we considered what we can do to help Christians be better agents of the gospel in the wider world.