Churches were told at the ‘Creating Sanctuary’ conference on 17 October 2020, that they could be flouting safeguarding rules and risking high-profile prosecutions in future if they persist in ‘deliverance ministry’ and ‘conversion therapy’ for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) people.
Sir Elton John, in his endorsement of the conference, said:
“The failure of many churches to welcome, accept and include LGBTQ+ people creates stigma, loneliness, fear and denial, causing lasting damage to their wellbeing and mental health.
What is more, the scale and severity of these problems are of the gravest concern. We need safe and affirming churches as places of sanctuary for all.
I applaud all that organisations such as Oasis are doing to champion real inclusion and to engage church leaders and others with the issues of safeguarding LGBT+ people. This work is urgent in order to protect all those who are vulnerable because of their sexual or gender identity.”
At the conference, the Rev Steve Chalke MBE said, (founder of Oasis)
“What churches describe as pastoral concern for those with ‘same-sex attraction’ is, in fact, a highly toxic and psychologically abusive environment where vulnerable LGBTQ+ people, many of them teenagers or even children, report that they have been taught to believe that their desires are sinful.”
We all know that the lack of safe churches has had a significant, harmful, and sometimes tragic impact on members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, as well as on their families and friends. Those attending the conference were encouraged to consider the evidence and hurt the church has caused that. They were then encouraged to take what they have learnt, back to their places of worship.
‘Creating Sanctuary’ had various speakers including Dave Moreton, a church leader dismissed from the RAF in the 1970s for being gay and Jayne Ozanne, who underwent conversion therapy resulting in hospitalisation.
The conference was designed to equip church leaders and others to engage with the issues of safeguarding LGBT+ people in churches by exploring:
- How to understand statutory guidance and the law
- How to embed safe practice – safeguarding and welfare promotion
- What good pastoral care looks like
- How we build healthy and safer churches
“We can’t carry on like this,” said conference speaker, Andrea King, “no matter what your theology, there is no justification for leading a person to a place where they have no hope and no future. It’s how we behave and love each other that matters.”
Creating Sanctuary was hosted by Oasis in partnership with House of Rainbow, OneBodyOneFaith, Open House and the Ozanne Foundation. Nearly 300 people took part to explore how their churches could be more inclusive.
Andrea King – who has 20 years’ experience in children’s services, safeguarding and prevention work. Now reading Theology at Regents Park College, Oxford, she is also working to provide mental health service improvement across the South East. Andrea is a member of Windsor Baptist Church and is the Coordinator and Chair of the Creating Sanctuary Core Team.
Dave Moreton – a leader at Oasis Church Waterloo, who while serving in the RAF in the 1970s, was arrested for being gay and discharged. Taught that homosexuality was incompatible with Christian faith, he sought prayer, counselling and deliverance in an unsuccessful attempt to change his sexuality. Now working in education, youth work and counselling, he has, over the last decade, helped to develop Oasis’ response to inclusiveness. His main passion is the pastoral care of LGBT+ people.
Jide Macaulay – Pastor and CEO of House of Rainbow, an inclusive, welcoming and affirming religious community for all people, including sexual minorities and marginalised people. Jide is British-Nigerian and a dynamic and inspirational speaker, author, poet and preacher. He is a recently ordained priest in the Church of England and holds a degree in Law, and postgraduate qualifications in Theology and Pastoral Theology.,
Jayne Ozanne – is a prominent British evangelical Anglican. Having previously believed that being Christian and gay was not compatible, she underwent various forms of conversion therapy, including ‘deliverance ministry’. This severely impacted her physical and mental health, for which she was hospitalised. Jayne now campaigns for a global ban on conversion therapy and works with religious organisations around the world to tackle prejudice and discrimination based on sexuality and gender.
Steve Chalke – is the founder of the Oasis charity, a Baptist Minister, a Canon of Southwark Cathedral and a prominent LGBT+ ally. He is also convinced that the hallmark of the Church is mutual respect, which means that although we may not always agree with each other over our interpretation of the Bible, we will continue to extend grace to one another.
For further information and resources, please visit: https://www.oasisuk.org/campaign/creating-sanctuary/ or email Dave Moreton at: firstname.lastname@example.org