from the National Coordinator.

Welcome to our website, we hope you find what you are looking for here. You can contact us for further information or a chat with me as Convenor or other members.

I took over as Convenor this February at our AGM. I have previously served on the coordinating group as the person responsible for theology and continue to hold that brief, whilst juggling the tasks of the Convenor.

It is a very exciting time in LGBT history with the first same sex marriages taking place in March and a cause for much celebration and rejoicing. Of course not everyone is happy with such a change and there are still some of us who cannot yet marry because we are in Civil Partnerships.

We hope for that to change very soon. I know the LGCM and Stonewall are keeping the pressure on government to sort out the legalities and format of converting one’s Civil Partnership to a marriage. But who could imagine that as a nation we could move from condemning homosexuality as a crime to having same sex weddings! An amazing shift in society’s thinking and understanding.

Of course it hasn’t just happened; certain LGBT organisations have been working for decades to secure equalities for LGBT people and we owe much to their work.

Within the Methodist church we are beginning to think about where we are as the law changes and challenges our current understanding of marriage from a Christian perspective. As is often the case the Church does not move quickly on these matters and a working group brings a report to the Conference this year having explored ‘the implications of the same sex marriage legislation and to recommend whether the Conference should set in motion a process to revisit its definition of marriage.’ (p421 Conference Agenda 2014)

For many this report will not go far enough and for others it goes too far. It is ever thus in a church body of different people with different views, convictions and beliefs. It leaves many of us frustrated with a church that seems to move like a tortoise whilst others feel the pace of change is too quick.

The report asks for a two year period of ‘listening, reflection and discernment about relationships on a much wider basis, based upon thinking about living with contradictory convictions and the nature and authority of the Bible.’ (page 421 Conference Agenda 2014) Whilst many of us would have liked to see a bolder response from Conference it is almost inevitable that that would not happen. So we commit ourselves to doing as Conference recommends. We may see this as a call for us as LGBT people, to be more courageous in sharing our stories, perhaps coming out afresh with all that might entail both good and bad. We might see this as a call for us to discern how we continue to live within a church that has members whose views oppose our very existence in that church? How do we continue to live and worship together with such different and strongly held convictions?

I encourage us all to be prayerful and thoughtful and courageous in the coming two years as people listen, reflect and share. And, as we work on our strategy for Outcome in the coming months we will include some spaces, if people wish for them, where we, as a group can come together to look at the Conference report.

So, once again, welcome, please make yourself known to us, if you are not on our mailing list perhaps you could sign up. If we can be of help or support we will do our very best.

Yours in Christ

Barbara Duchars

(my details are in Minutes of Conference)