Churches unite in Croydon in support of LGBT equality

In brilliant sunshine, on Saturday 17th May 2014, FFLAG supported eight local church groups in Croydon as they joined with eight local LGBT groups to celebrate IDAHO Day * in the busy central shopping precinct of Croydon, south London under the banner of “ONE LOVE”.

It was gratifying to see churches actually supporting LGBT rights and taking a stand against homophobic bullying in such an exuberant , colourful and positive way.  Joyful music was provided by the ‘Endurance Steel Orchestra’ and ‘Happy Noise’, a brass band recruited from within the LGBT community.   The articipating churches were the Croydon M

ethodist Circuit,  St John Church the Evangelist Upper Norwood, St Stephen’s Norbury and Thornton Heath, Croydon Unitarians,  The Regeneration Project,  Purley Quakers,  Metropolitan Community Church, Balham and Quest – a group for LGBT Catholics.

In addition the ‘Rainbows  Across Borders’ group who are composed of LGBT asylum seekers from a number of countries provided songs and dance.  The members have many harrowing stories to tell.  Bruce and Janet Kent who ran the FFLAG stall spoke with one dear lady from this group who was forced to flee from Uganda, leaving her husband and four sons because of the homophobia in that country.  She is still unable to return safely to see her loved ones.
The event was endorsed by Rev. Steve Chalke  MBE, founder of the Oasis Trust who said, 
“One Love demonstrates that there is a growing move towards a more compassionate rounded, thoughtful and consistent approach to sexuality within the Church. I am extremely encouraged that LGBT groups and churches in Croydon are working together and I hope that this event serves as a reminder that the Church’s mandate is to love and serve the whole community, reflecting the truth that we are all uniquely made in the image of God.”
The Bishop of Croydon, The Right Reverend Jonathan Clark also said, 
“The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently launched a campaign in schools against homophobic bullying, and I am pleased to know that this event will seek to encourage people to be accepting of others regardless of their sexual orientation. The Church of England seeks to be inclusive of all, and I hope that this event for IDAHO will encourage people to see the church as somewhere that they can find a place.”
These were encouraging words indeed, although not mirrored by everyone.  Two sincere and devout Christian ladies made sure that they pointed out to Bruce and Janet that gays will all burn in hell forever if they don’t turn from their evil ways and that FFLAG supporters are instruments of the devil himself!
So there’s still room for progress to be made.  Overall, however, the event was well received by the people of Croydon.  One young lady, hurrying to work that morning, who didn’t know the event was to be there said that it had made her day to see us all out there making a stand.  Many people of all ages were able to take a booklet or leaflet or have a chat and be encouraged that even among the Christian denominations changes are beginning to happen.
*  May 17th is celebrated as the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, often referred to as IDAHO. It marks the anniversary of the day in 1990 when homosexuality was removed from The World Health Organisation’s list of mental disorders.


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