Category Archives: Meetings

Faith, Pride, and Chat, and World AIDS Day service this Friday

Don’t forget Faith, Pride, and Chat, our informal social evening, is taking place on Friday, 30 November at 7 p.m in St George’s Church on High Street. More detail….

At 8 p.m., also in St George’s, there will be a short service for World AIDS Day.

The service will begin promptly at eight o’clock in the evening. The aim is to remember those who have gone before, those living now, and those still to come who live with or are affected by HIV.

Faith, Pride, and Chat this Friday

Don’t forget Faith, Pride, and Chat, our informal social evening, is taking place on Friday, 26 October at 7 p.m in St George’s Church on High Street. More detail….

30 Years Since Decriminalisation

On Sunday 28th October 2012 at 3 p.m. in St Georges Church, High Street, Belfast, there will be a service to mark 30 years since the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships in Northern Ireland.  The speaker is Jeff Dudgeon MBE.

Jeff Dudgeon is best known for his role in the case of Dudgeon vs United Kingdom, where he challenged the criminalisation of sexual relations between men at the European Court of Human Rights. When it concluded in 1982, the case forced Northern Ireland to bring its laws into line with the rest of the UK.

This event is organised by Changing Attitude Ireland.

Download flyer.

“Presbyterian, Gay and Scottish” – Changing Attitude Ireland Lecture

Changing Attitude Ireland is having a public lecture at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday 27th October 2012 in Central Hall, First (Non-Subscribing) Presbyterian Church, Rosemary St, Belfast. The speaker is Rev. Blair Robertson from Affirmation Scotland.

The Revd Blair Robertson is a clergyman in the Church of Scotland. Educated at Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities and Princeton Theological Seminary, he is Head of Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. He will reflect on the current debate on sexuality in his Church, and look ahead, with hope, to a more inclusive church. Speaking from his personal experience as a gay Christian he will give perspectives on how the Bible and theology is used in this often difficult debate in the Christian churches in Britain and Ireland.

Download flyer.

“Written in the past, calling to the present”

Accepting Sexuality, an informal group of Methodists, is holding a series of Bible studies in October.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are used to hearing Biblical passages quoted in judgement or exclusion of their identity. This series looks at an interpretation in the context in which the passages were written which brings a positive, affirming and inclusive message to LGBT people, their families and friends, in relation to who God is and to our understanding of sexuality.

The series aims to enable an open, honest and Biblical understanding of these sometimes difficult passages.

The studies take place at 8pm in the Belfast South Methodist Church, Lisburn Road, Belfast.

Date Subject and speaker
4 October Jayme Reaves
Introduction to Scriptural Interpretation
Paula Rita Tabakin
The Jewish Approach to Difficult Scriptures
11 October Jayme Reaves
The Creation Narrative
Stephen Adair
Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis and Jude)
18 October Harriet Long
Leviticus
25 October David Cooper
Romans
Andrew McFarland Campbell
1 Corinthians & 1 Timothy

Download flyer

Faith, Pride, and Chat this Friday

Don’t forget Faith, Pride, and Chat, our informal social evening, is taking place on Friday, 28 September at 7:15 p.m in Costa Coffee, Victoria Square. Note this is a last-minute change of venue. I’ll be wearing a pink F&P hoodie so you can find me.  More detail….

Faith, Pride, and Chat this Friday

Don’t forget Faith, Pride, and Chat, our informal social evening, is taking place on Friday, 31 August at 7 p.m in St George’s Church on High Street. More detail….

Belfast Pride Parade Day

Today is Belfast Pride‘s parade day. We are holding two events.

  • A group of gay (and gay friendly) Christians will be supporting the parade. We will be gathering at St George’s Church on High Street from 10.30. More details… (Facebook event page). If you are on the parade, give us a wave as you go past!
  • Our final 15 minutes with Christ is at 6pm in St George’s. More details… (Facebook event page).

For full details of Belfast Pride itself, check their website.

15 minutes with Christ today

Accept God's message for what it really is.The sixth of our 15 minutes with Christ services is at 6 pm today, at St George’s Church, High Street, Belfast.

All One in Christ

My grandmother came from Glasgow. She moved, with her husband and children, to Belfast in the late 1930s. During World War Two, she was in Glasgow to visit her family. There was a barrage balloon, and during her visit my grandmother decided she wanted to see it. She went to the site of the balloon and couldnʼt find it anywhere. Eventually she asked a passer by where it was. He looked at her, somewhat confused, and said: “Youʼre staring right at it.”

The barrage balloon was enormous, and my grandmother was expecting something much smaller. It was so big she couldnʼt see it, until it was pointed out to her.

If you are looking for evidence that the Bible supports gay people, evidence that you can follow Christ and have a same-sex partner, then you can have a similar experience. You look for something small, maybe a brief aside in one of the shorter letters, or a reference to a gay couple somewhere in the Old Testament. In reality, there is a great big affirming barrage balloon floating in the middle of the New Testament. It is so big, so huge, so affirming that you can easily miss it. That affirmation comes from Paulʼs letter to the Galatians, chapter 3, verse 28.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female.

Looking at the first paring, what does “Neither Jew nor Gentile” mean? At first sight you might think that Paul was arguing that Christians should be racially and culturally homogenous, yet elsewhere, in 1st Corinthians chapter 7, Paul says “Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised.” He goes on to say “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping Godʼs commands is what counts. Each of you should remain in the situation you were in when God called you.” If  Paul was really arguing for cultural and racial homogeneity in Galatians, he wouldnʼt have said that in 1st Corinthians.

In the early church, including the church at Galatia, there was a division along the Jewish/Gentile lines. That was wrong, and Paul said that it should not be: neither Jew nor Gentile, you are all one in Christ. Yes, people were of different cultural and racial backgrounds, but those differences should not be divisions.

Lets consider a practical example. Suppose two couples approached a church to get married. In the first couple, both people are from the same cultural and racial background. No church would object to their relationship on those grounds. The second couple is mixed race. Would it be right for the church to object to their relationship? No, because as soon as you do that you go against what Galatians says. You say that in Christ there is Jew and there is Gentile, and we are not all one in Christ.

What about the second pairing: neither slave nor free? Once again, you might think that Paul is arguing for homogeneity here, but he isnʼt. Early Christians did come from different social backgrounds, but those social backgrounds were not to be a source of division and judgement within the church. In the words of James chapter 2, verses 1 to 4:

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor person in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special atention to the one wearing fine clothes and say, “Hereʼs a good seat for you,” but say to the one who is poor, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Consider this practical example. Once again, two couples approach a church. In the first couple, both people are from the same social background. No church would object to their relationship on those grounds. The second couple is different. One party comes from a comfortably-off background, grew up in a house with six bathrooms, and so on. The other party has lived all their life in a council house. Could any church object to their relationship? No, because as soon as you do that you go against what Galatians says. You say that in Christ there is slave and there is free, and we are not all one in Christ.

And so we come to the final pairing: neither male nor female. Suppose an opposite sex couple approaches the church to get married. Would anyone object on those grounds? Of course not. It happens all the time. But could the church – could a Christian – object to a same-sex couple? If you object to a same-sex couple, surely you are saying that there is male and there is female, and we are not all one in Christ?

To judge a relationship on racial or cultural grounds is racism, and that is forbidden by Galatians. To judge a relationship on the grounds of class or social background is snobbery, and that is forbidden by Galatians.

And to judge a relationship because it is a same-sex relationship is also forbidden by Galatians.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Those words are the great barrage balloon of affirmation, the great barrage balloon of defence. The race, class and gender of someoneʼs partner do not determine how a Christian should feel about their relationship.

This is the text of the meditation given at 15 minutes with Christ on Thursday 2 August 2012.

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