Thursday, 10 June 2010
LISTENING TO HIDDEN VOICES
Congratulations to West Midlands Faiths Forum, Birmingham LGBT and Aston University Chaplaincy for organising today's conference on Listening to Hidden Voices - the Experience of Lesbian. Gay and Bisexual People of Faith. This is not a topic that is often on interfaith agendas - another one of the important hot potatoes that is often avoided within the polite restraint of the more usual interfaith gathering. Today's conference was exceptionally well thought through and planned. It WAS a listening exercise - actors powerfully told the stories of 5 Lesbian and Gay people of faith from different faith communities and we listened and then had the chance to explore in small groups how we felt and how as people of faith we might want to pastorally respond. The stories were deeply moving and often very painful and by the end of the day many of us were emotionally exhausted, but that was also part of the conference's power, we were not able to retreat into easy theological and dogmatic assertion as we were confronted with the humanity and witness of the stories we were told. It doesn't feel right to share details of the stories here, I hope other opportunities will happen for these stories to be shared and their challenge to be heard. I came away from the conference with Jesus' strong words of condemnation on the religious leaders of his time in Matthew 23 ringing in my ears and heard them as a judgement upon all of us in positions of spiritual 'authority' who, either directly, or by silent collusion, tear the liberating heart out of the Revelations God has given us and turn them into burdensome stones to be hung upon the necks of our LGBT brothers and sisters of faith. May the truth of their continuing liberating power be attested to in the lives of LGBT people of faith, who despite condemnation from our communities often witness in their personal stories to the power of God's love, mercy and compassion.