LGBTQ+ people and Christians are sometimes spoken about as two mutually exclusive groups, and the historical lack of recognition that someone can hold both identities has led to abusive practices, such as discrimination, oppression, exclusion and ‘conversion therapy’. LGBTQ+ Christians have experienced pain and fear in both social and religious contexts.
Diverse Church (DC) is a safe, inclusive space where LGBTQ+ young adults who are Christian or agnostic have opportunities to flourish in life and faith. As one member put it: “DC is a group full of support and love, and it brings together two very important aspects of my identity.”
The need for DC has been particularly prominent throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, as so many LGBTQ+ young adults have felt even more isolated than they already were, and many have been in lockdown with non-affirming family members.
DC is a small, volunteer-led charity which helps faith communities value the queer Christians in their midst, and provides facilitated workshops, events and training to enable schools, colleges, youth groups, churches and communities to understand and fully include people of faith, LGBTQ+ people and those who hold both identities.
With the support of our funding over two years, Diverse Church will finance a National Director and a range of new programmes. DC will be able to provide resourced community support sessions, one-to-one mentoring, a leadership programme, public theology, creative workshops, a public podcast and bespoke training. The impact of the organisation’s support can be long-term and even lifelong, as portrayed by this member: “I won't ever forget how much it meant to have a secret, safe space to be myself that was also Christian.”
More than 150 LGBTQ+ young adults and their families will directly benefit as a result of the grant, through programmes that will support their social, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. It really matters to DC that the funding provided was faith-based, as this feels nurturing and restorative for so many members who have been hurt by church communities. The grant was awarded as the public consultation on the ban of conversion therapy was closing, which held a deep significance for the charity.
The final word goes to one of DC’s members, who describes her thoughts on the receipt of funding from Benefact Trust: “I’m really excited that DC has received funding to be able to continue growing the community and developing projects that support people like me. I’m gay and a Christian, and never knew there were others like me until I joined DC. It’s cool that we can build friendships that will last forever and make sure that others don’t feel as alone as I did.”
To find out more about Diverse Church, visit https://diversechurch.website/