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Award for Diverse Church 

An organisation which supports young LGBT+ Christians in their faith has been presented with a national award

Diverse Church foot circleDiverse Church was chosen as the Most Innovative Youth Work at the 2016 Christian Youth Work Awards. It is believed this is the first time an organisation working with LGBT+ people has been presented with a national Christian award. 

Diverse Church is a supportive community of more than 350 young LGBT+ Christians aged 18-30 in UK and the Republic of Ireland. It welcomes young people from a wide variety of denominations including Anglican, Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, the Salvation Army.

The group sees itself as a pastoral resource for the wider church so that young LGBT+ people do not need to give up on life or God. Members are linked together through social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and have regular regional and national meet ups. 

The organisation says it is careful not to prescribe whether its members should be for or against gay marriage, but offers creative support for each member to grow in their Christian faith and to explore what this means for them. They recently launched DC:Parents, a similar group for the Christian Parents of LGBT people and are about to launch DC:Youth for under 18 year olds.

DC was founded in 2013 by the Revd Sally Hitchiner, an Anglican chaplain at Brunel University, London, who found that many Christian young LGBT people were coming to her for advice and support.

'The members of Diverse Church show what’s possible for all young people in the church today,' Sally said. 'They are committed to each other and to God, honest, creative, compassionate and full of faith. They have a lot to offer the wider church and it’s wonderful to see that being recognised.'

Diverse Church Gemma Dunning aSally received the award alongside Baptist minister the Revd Gemma Dunning, who leads Leytonstone United Free Church in London.

Gemma explained that a team of volunteer pastoral facilitators work behind the scenes loving and caring for the young people in DC and for the parents group. Gemma has been a pastoral facilitator with DC for more than two years.

The judging panel for the Youth Work Award was led by Robin Barden, who is Director of the Institute for Children, Youth and Mission Studies at Ridley Hall, Cambridge University. He said, 'We were particularly struck by how Diverse Church facilitates young people at the margins to engage with the wider church in a manner that both respects and enables their voices to be heard.'

Elsewhere the Children's Society's Seriously Awkward won the Best Youth Work Resource, while Becca Willett, a youth worker at St Alban's Fulham who works with local authorities to support young people in the community, was Youth Worker of the Year. The other awards can be found here: https://www.youthworkawards.co.uk/home.

The ceremony can be watched on Youtube. For more information about Diverse Church visit www.diversechurch.website 

Top image: Diverse Church members often record their meetings with hand or foot circles to retain confidentiality.
Lower image: Gemma Dunning (left) and Sally Hitchiner from Diverse Church receiving their award from Robin Barden

Baptist Times, 16/11/2016
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