European Forum

European Forum

“Enlarge the place of your tent,” Memory and Prophecy, that was the theme of this year’s European Forum of LGBTI+ groups in Varese, Italy.  The European Forum is an ecumenical association of LGBTI+ Christian Groups which aims to achieve equality and inclusion for LGBTI+ people within and through Christian churches and other religious bodies and multilateral organisations.  With over 40 member groups from 20 countries it has been working for over 40 years.  Long term members will remember that OneBodyOneFaith rejoined the forum in 2022.

This year’s conference was themed around looking back and looking forward and hosted a wide range of seminars and workshops on issues relevant to LGBT+ Christians.  What was especially pleasing for me was that there was more of an emphasis on the spiritual aspects of our faith, with workshops on contemplative prayer and other spaces for prayer and meditaton.

OneBodyOneFaith was an active part of the timetable.  Luke offered morning yoga which not only gave us a gentle but energetic start to the day, but offered space to reflect on the God who breathes life into us and encourages to stretch and grow.  Andrea and Luke presented a workshop on safeguarding and creating safe spaces in our churches which was well attended and appreciated.  And, I led a shortened version of Rhythm in the closing ceremony, holding space for attendees to reflect on what was good and what they wanted to take away.

Not only that but Luke was elected as the Secretary for the next year.  OneBodyOneFaith has released some of Luke’s time as our contribution to the work of the Forum as they finalise the strategic plan.  So please do keep Luke and the board in your prayers this coming year.

Reflecting on the conference, it is always good to have space to hear other people’s stories.  We can become engrossed in our own challenges or our own victories and hearing others stories helps us to remember that we are part of a bigger body.  It was also encouraging, that the Forum, like OneBodyOneFaith is scoping for the future with a strategic plan, which you’ll hear more about in due course.  Memory is necessary and good but looking forward with prophetic hope and being a prophetic voce for safety and joy is vital.

What was also great was that Susan Murphy, who has been a member of OneBodyOneFaith for about 30 years, was also there, her 15th conference since 1998.  Susan reflects, 

“This year there was a very wide age range and I was particularly inspired by the young people leading two of the pre-Conferences.

Story-telling between younger and older women was encouraging, uplifting and yet sometimes, challenging, Stories from some countries and church contexts reinforce the continuing need for the Forum.

Hearing about the Forum wide ranging work was very interesting ~ do read the Annual Report for more information.”

Members are always encouraged to think about attending if they would like to help represent OneBodyOneFaith so if you would like to know more get in touch with me and we can have a conversation.