Extending the Table – Towards a radical new Christian inclusion

A day conference aimed at resourcing churches to become more openly inclusive of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) is taking place at De Montfort University in Leicester on Saturday 5th October.

The event, called ‘Extending the table – Towards a radical new Christian inclusion’ will reflect on examples of the ‘radical new Christian inclusion’ called for by the Archbishop of Canterbury in February 2017, following the Church of England General Synod’s rejection of the House of Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relationships. Archbishop Justin Welby wrote that this ‘radical new Christian inclusion’ in the Church ‘must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships’. He continues:

‘No person is a problem, or an issue. People are made in the image of God. All of us, without exception, are loved and called in Christ. There are no ‘problems’, there are simply people…

‘The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion.’

  • Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury following General Synod, 15/02/2017

Following feedback from Gathering Voices’ successful 2018 day conference, From Welcome To Affirmation, this year we are ‘extending the table’ to include more diverse and marginal groups within Christian and LGBT+ communities.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Luke Dowding, Newly appointed Executive Director of OneBodyOneFaith, on ‘Welcome, hospitality and LGBT+ people seeking refuge and asylum’
  • Dr Carol Shepherd, Research Fellow at the University of Winchester, on ‘We Need To Talk About Bi: The subject the Church and LGBT+ groups keep ignoring’

Workshops: Participants will be invited to sign up for two breakout groups including the following (subject to change)

  • The Bible, welcome and hospitality
  • The Equality Act and religious exemptions
  • LGBT+ people seeking refuge and asylum
  • Bisexual Christian experiences
  • How families cope with having a transgender relative
  • Creating safe sacred spaces for LGBT+ Christians

There will also be marketplace stalls for LGBT+ Christian groups.

The conference is hosted by Gathering Voices, a collaboration of Christian LGBT+ affirming organisations organisations offering an ongoing series of events, conferences, and resources aimed at enabling churches to move from welcome to full inclusion of everybody. Partners in this year’s conference include:

  • Accepting Evangelicals: A network of Evangelical Christians who believe the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life, and the development of a positive Christian ethic for LGBT people: acceptingevangelicals.org
  • Diverse Church: A charity providing pastoral care to support and encourage young LGBT+ Christians to grow in their faith: diversechurch.website
  • The Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians (EFLGC): A group of women and men, most of whom are LGBT and from an Evangelical Christian background, who meet to share experiences, support and encouragement in faith and to think through issues relating to faith, gender and sexuality: eflgc.org.uk
  • Inclusive Church: An educational charity working with churches of different denominations encouraging them to explore ways in which they may become more inclusive: inclusive-church.org
  • Open Table: A network of ecumenical Christian worship communities which offer a warm welcome to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer / questioning, intersex, asexual (LGBTQIA) and all who seek an inclusive Church: opentable.lgbt
  • Quest: A charity which provides pastoral support for LGBT+ Catholics: questlgbti.uk

Gathering Voices 2019 day conference, Extending the table – Towards a radical new Christian inclusion, is on Saturday 5th October from 10am-4.30pm (registration from 9.30am) at De Montfort University, Leicester. The £30 ticket price also includes lunch, and morning and afternoon refreshments. For more details and to book, visit gatheringvoices.info