Safety and Joy
Many of us will have heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s a foundational principle in much of our contemporary learning and development around the world and it states some crucial principles. Without your basic physical needs being met (food, shelter warmth, etc) and crucially, without a sense of safety, all the other potential that you might realise, who you might be, what you might do, become much harder to reach.
Maslow lived and worked on the margins. He knew what it was to be a migrant, to suffer racism, antisemitism, exclusion, marginalisation, and harm. He knew what it was to dream of self-actualisation – a place and a time in which you might be all that you were intended to be. He knew what it was to celebrate and build on the gifts, the talents, the strengths – the importance of joy and of love.
In our current context of: the Ukrainian crisis, austerity, post-Covid suffering, increasing emotional and physical ill-health, more people in insecure housing, without enough to eat; these words take on fresh meaning. People of faith, who really love their neighbour as themselves, and who visibly give arms, legs, eyes and ears to God’s divine, precious and immeasurable love, become so very important.
And so, as OneBodyOneFaith turns its attention as an organisation to two key themes: joy and safety, the focus could not be more poignant. We have seen an encouraging response from a number of denominational leaders to the new conversation introduced by resources like Creating Sanctuary that OneBodyOneFaith proactively supported, which are creating change. We watched Methodist leaders before and during Synod and the Church in Wales Synod, to name but two, stop and listen to the experience of LGBTQ+ harm in church environments. To listen to the lack of safety that many have experienced. To celebrate the times of genuine welcome and affirmation; and together, to move to a new conversation that prioritised the safety of all, with specific care for LGBTQ+ people. We have seen other traditions and denominations, struggle to accept and understand the impact of harm in their context, we anticipate the inevitable governmental dialogue about the right to safety for all. And so, the work continues.
As we turn our attention to safety, let’s also enjoy the moments of joy. Those moments of laughter, delight and sheer happiness, will afford us a necessary balance, that will sustain us and remind us of just what we were created to be. As we embark together on a transformative conversation with inter-denominational and governmental leaders, to create safer churches for LGBTQ+ people, let’s take time for moments of joy.
Andrea King, Chair of Creating Sanctuary