OuterSpace is committed to the church and to helping everyone find their way in the church, no matter what their background.
We try to look beyond the dry intellectual debates that surround the whole area of gender and sexual orientation, and to focus instead on hearing the stories of real people’s faith, in order to understand the different journeys that LGBT Christians are on.
It is by humanising the debates, by sharing experiences and by engaging in constructive dialogue that the church, in all its forms, can begin to reflect the reality of the world around it, and start to make a positive difference in people's lives – both within and outside the church.
Each year at Greenbelt, OuterSpace will outwork this belief by hosting speakers, discussions, times of reflection and times of fellowship - all with the aim of supporting LGBT Christians on their journeys of faith, and helping all churches to understand what it means to have LGBT people as part of their communities.
Wednesday 26 August 2009
Greenbelt 2009: First post
Well good evening,
This will be the first of several posts from the Greenbelt festival in Cheltenham. Several of us at Changing Attitude will be blogging the latest goings on over the weekend, assuming the combination of camping, rain, mud and laptops does not cause IT meltdown.
On top of my involvement in Changing Attitude, I'm personally also involved in OuterSpace, which is just one of the LGBT groups involved in providing LGBT-focused content at Greenbelt, and creating a space where LGBT Christians can get together and have fellowship.
When OuterSpace started working with Greenbelt at 2007, we were really interested in taking a different tack to many of the seminars on LGBT issues many of us had attended previously at Greenbelt and other Christian festivals. This is how we described what we were trying to achieve, which in many ways also echoes the approach of Changing Attitude:
It was in some ways amusing, in other ways rather disturbing to see our words quoted on the Anglican Mainstream blog earlier this year as evidence of the 'gayification' of UK evangelicalism. Needless to say, nobody gets 'gayified' at Greenbelt (whatever that means) unless being 'gayified' means opening your mind to the possibility that LGBT people are often well-balanced individuals with a genuine faith. My goodness, what a dangerous liberal idea..
One of the most valuable things we've done as part of OuterSpace, and which we'll be doing again this year, is our stall in the Greenbelt resource centre. There we've heard all kinds of stories from all kinds of people. Young people who have been forced to leave churches, parents of LGBT people who have fallen out with longstanding Christian friends over it, vicars and pastors looking to understand how they can reach out to LGBT people in their own congregations and communities.
It's sad that even in 2009, often the only perspective on LGBT people you'll hear at Spring Harvest or New Wine is one which either denies the existence of LGBT people, or caricatures us as deluded, confused, or worse. (It goes without saying that this flies in the face of the vast majority of professional opinion, not to mention the reality of so many healthy happy LGBT people in the UK.) However loving the intention of such groups, the effect is in so many cases simply to drive people away from the church, and even away from God.
That's why we are so grateful to Greenbelt for allowing us the opportunity to suggest to LGBT people on the brink of leaving church that there IS another way, and that there is good news in the church for LGBT people.
On the cusp of another Greenbelt, we're looking forward to being able to report back positive stories of LGBT Christians getting on with their lives, and doing great things for God, their churches, families and communities.
And if you're coming along, or just are interested to see what we'll be up to this year, please do check out the OuterSpace website:
Bye for now - I'm off to track down my waterproof trousers...