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Listening in the local church

We hear from both churches and ministers that they are looking for support in holding conversations around human sexuality. Many are apprehensive about opening up any discussion regarding the place in church for those who are LGBT+. Sometimes this apprehension in churches stems from a fear of stoking division. Sometimes, among ministers, it stems from a misplaced belief that they are in some way prohibited from talking about LGBT+ matters.

As a Union we collectively discerned our response to Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2013 at Baptist Union Council. This was discerned through a time of intense prayer, listening and discussion and many Baptists contributed to that process through our ‘talkingtogether’ email address.  Find out more about this process, statements issued and the reports on Council discussions in our Listening to the past section.

As Baptists we prioritise the freedom of the local church to discern the mind of Christ on all matters pertaining to faith and practice. These are the resources produced by different groups of Baptists that are about enabling local churches to listen to one another and so doing offer good pastoral care for people who may strongly disagree with one another. If you think there are others that should be included please contact us.

Creating Sanctuary
CreatingSanctuaryWebinarCreating Sanctuary is a new resource that provides a framework in which we can explore our Biblical and pastoral learning about inclusion, through safer and respectful dialogue with each other. It does not ask participants to change their minds on same sex relationships or same sex marriage. It asks all participants to think about how we could make our faith communities/churches a safer place for LGBT+ people.

The following webinar introduces Creating Sanctuary:

Click here to download the video.

For more information visit: creatingsanctuary.org.uk

CS CentreForBaptistStudies WebBuilding Safer Churches webinar - Monday 21 February
The Centre for Baptist Studies at Regent’s Park College, Oxford is hosting a webinar with Creating Sanctuary to hear about the need and impact of the Creating Sanctuary resource designed to journey with churches to create safer spaces for LGBT+ people. Register by emailing christine.joynes@regents.ox.ac.uk

Whilst Creating Sanctuary aims to foster a process of listening well, it is by no means the only resource. Stephen Elmes, Lead Minister of Bookham Baptist Church, has been helping churches in the South East of England to open a conversation about same-sex attraction and relationships, and has developed these resources:
Sexuality, Faith, and the Art of Conversation and A Beautiful Endeavour

These books and the video clips below open up the stories around how people’s lived experiences shape their theological positions. He has kindly made available:

Sexuality, Faith, and the Art of Conversation: Part One

Publisher: Creative Tension Publications (2017)

A follow-up book (parts two, three and four) was published in 2019.
A Beautiful Endeavour

This book is intended as a resource for church leaders and churches to help them envisage and consider a way forward when tackling issues that might easily divide. It is all about having the best conversation possible, hearing all voices and working out how we might hold differences creatively and missionally.

Publisher: Creative Tension Publications (2019)
Steve has given permission for us to make available a pdf of this book to enable churches to engage in good conversations.  It may be shared electronically provided this is not for commercial gain but no printed copies should be made. If you would like a printed copy, please buy the book.

Steve has also created a series of short films (30 mins in total) shot at Bookham Baptist Church which tell the story in A Beautiful Endeavour in seven scenes with some help from some church members and a musician friend.  Watch the first video below, and click on the links beneath it for the other 'scenes'.

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