Space To Be
Space To Be was an online collaboration from Diverse Church, House of Rainbow, OneBodyOneFaith, Open Table, Quest, and Two:23.
We came together acknowleding the challenges experienced by many LGBTQ+ Christians, and how difficult it can be to find a safe space to worship as our true, authentic selves - especially during isolation and periods of lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since we began we've been delighted to see people from across the globe join us, as well as in the UK.
Recordings of our gatherings can be found HERE.
Whilst we've pressed pause on these online gatherings for now, our organisations are committed to find ways to work together in the future - and hear the need for ongoing partnership to best serve and support LGBT+ Christians around the world.
In our final (for now!) Space To Be, Kieran (National Coordinater, Open Table), shared this reflection which can also be found on their website.
In February 2020 Luke from OneBodyOneFaith came to visit the first Open Table community in Liverpool to offer a reflection and a lecture to mark LGBT+ History Month. Luke and I met in person (remember when we could do that?) to compare notes about future plans.
On 28th March 2020 OneBodyOneFaith planned a day conference in Bristol on ‘Empowering The Prophetic Voice: Trans and Non Binary Theology by Trans and Non Binary People’. It sounded great - I was planning to attend. But by 11th March an in-person gathering was looking uncertain so OneBodyOneFaith took the difficult decision to cancel the event and make content available online instead.
On 19th March Luke emailed me to see how together we ‘might respond to the number of folk self-isolating and the suspension of the majority of public services nationally’. He wrote:
So we began making plans for a regular online gathering of 30-40 minutes, including prayer, reflection and signposting to further resources. Luke was inspired by live gatherings on Zoom hosted by his church in London, the wonderfully inclusive Bloomsbury Baptist Church. So we learned the art of Zoom so people could chat together as well as reflect - simply to create a Space To Be, hence the name of the gathering.
We offered the first Space To Be on a Friday in May, in the week of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which informed our reflections. Feedback was good so we planned for more. In June we reflected on Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march, plus we added a Zoom chat afterwards for the first time.
In July we had a reflective time with a guided meditation by Jesuit priest David Birchall, who began retreats for LGBT+ Christians at Loyola Hall in Merseyside in 1991. These retreats continue, now at St Beuno’s Spirituality Centre in north Wales, which this November will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first retreat. This was the first contribution from Quest, growing the Space To Be partnership to six organisations.
We took a break in August, then in September we reflected on ‘Creating Sanctuary’, a resource to help churches be safer spaces for LGBT+ people, and everyone. In October we reflected on resilience and hope - qualities we have needed in abundance in recent months.
In November we switched from meeting on a Friday to a Monday, and gathered at the start of Advent and on the eve of World Aids Day, and reflected on those two themes.
This month we reflected on this past year - where have we come from, where are we now, where are we going? A year ago we’d just begun to imagine the possibilities that working together might bring. Little did we know what challenges and opportunities awaited us. The six partners in creating these Spaces To Be have never worked together so much and, while we miss the energy and intimacy of meeting in physical spaces, hosting spaces online has meant we’ve reached people who would never have connected with us otherwise, because of all kinds of barriers that would make attendance at an in-person events impossible.
We continue to mourn all we have lost, but also give thanks for the new ways of being together we’ve found, and our growing sense of what we share and why it matters.