As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently in London, England, for the World Pride 2012 celebration which begins next week, and culminates in a parade on July 7th.
While visiting “this side of the pond,” I had the opportunity to conduct New Ways Ministry’s popular “Next Steps: Developing Catholic LGBT Ministry” program for a group in London. It was the first time that New Ways Ministry conducted this particular program in a non-U.S. setting.
Over 20 people attended the day-long workshop (we also offer a weekend-long version of the program), which is designed to help people develop a plan of action (“next steps”) for LGBT ministry for their faith communities and/or themselves as individuals. The program was held agt St. Ann’s-in-the-City church, in the Soho area of London, on June 23rd.
Terence Weldon, who writes and edits the excellent blog, QueeringTheChurch.com, attended the program and posted about it. An excerpt from his post entitled “LGBT Ministry: A Mustard Seed Begins to Sprout”:
“The structure and focus of the workshop was entirely action oriented – not ‘What should or could be done?’ but ‘What am I going to do, and when?’
” Every one of the participants ended the day with specific plans that they could begin to work on, in their own faith communities. As Frank pointed out, we now have the materials and structure of the workshop – there is nothing to stop us repeating it, with the more usual weekend time frame, and adapted to British circumstances. I am certain that we will take this up and repeat it, specifically for the Soho Masses community – and possibly thereafter, adapt it for other groups as well. [The Soho Masses are semi-monthly Eucharistic liturgies sponsored by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster (London) for the LGBT community.]
“The mustard seed has yet to grow to full maturity – but it has undeniably begun to sprout.
Some of the “next steps” participants planned during the program:
–develop a faith-sharing group for LGBT Catholics
–connect with LGBT groups in other faiths for joint projects
–begin to inquire about supporting programs for LGBT youth in the area
–initiate a peer support group for LGBT ministers
–volunteer with a Catholic LGBT hotline
–meet with local parish staff to inquire about LGBT ministry
–advertise that parish counseling services welcome LGBT people
–donate books on LGBT faith issues to parish library
–donate books on LGBT theology to seminaries in South Africa
–initiate a dialogue with the local bishop
–develop a prayer group for LGBT people
–initiate a woman’s group at regular LGBT Catholic gatherings
–start a “speakers’ bureau” of LGBT Catholics and allies who can give presentations to parishes.
England has long been a leader in the discussion of LGBT issues in the Catholic Church, thanks to some a dedicated group of lay people, priests, and some key hierarchical leaders who have been willing to address the issue. It was a privilege to work with some of those dedicated lay people and priests during the “Next Steps” program.
Based on the intelligence, faith, and enthusiasm of the participants at this recent program, I predict even greater things will be happening in England on Catholic LGBT issues.
For more information on the “Next Steps” program or to schedule one in your area, click here.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry