The next few years were a time of coming to terms with my divorce. Friends in the church I attended gave me a home and tremendous level of support and love while I struggled through the difficulties of that time.
I gradually took more of an active role in the charismatic church I attended in Ipswich leading a house group and becoming part of team running Alpha Courses. Alpha is a course designed to introduce people to the Christian faith through having a meal together, and learning about basic Christian belief through listening to an ‘after dinner speaker’, followed by informal discussion. I did some of the speaking at Alpha and facilitated different discussion groups. I enjoyed Alpha tremendously. I loved to see people gradually become more aware of the reality of God over the weeks and then come to find faith in him.
I grew in my love for God and my deep trust in Him but became increasingly aware of the sexism in some church’s and how hurtful that was.
I then worked a year for a Christian charity that ran a night shelter and hostels for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. I was a residential care worker so I lived in one of the hostels sharing the day to day life with young adults who were trying to rebuild their lives. I met several people there who were struggling with questions about their sexual orientation, the Christian response was that it was necessary to be healed from homosexuality but the process of
‘healing’ advocated was long and immensely difficult and did not appear to be effective in the long term.
A close Christian friend of mine was a lesbian and I saw the guilt and conflict she suffered over her sexuality. The stance of the church was that she could be ‘healed’ but this did not happen. I deeply regret now that at that time I did not know how to encourage her to value herself as a lesbian and express her sexuality.
I met Jim in 2002. His understanding of the Bible has played a large part in enabling me to re examine and get rid of my previous prejudices. I can now clearly see that God’s acceptance of us does not depend on our sexuality but our reliance on what Jesus has done for us. I have been able to challenge and change the view of homosexuality I had acquired from my church background. I can now appreciate and value sexual and gender diversity as another aspect of the wonderful diversity of creation
I have recently taught health studies for nearly two years at the local College of Further Education. At the college I actively promoted education among my students about gay and lesbian issues. I was a couple counsellor for Relate for some years and also a ‘one to one’ counsellor at the local Hospice.
In the year before Liberty Church started I attended MCC Manchester which is not just a Gay and Lesbian Church, but inclusive of all people. I gained tremendously from attending. I felt the atmosphere of acceptance and welcome that is extended to all who go there and met some wonderful people.
I have felt very privileged to be invited to the Trans Group in Manchester that is run by church members. Through attending the group regularly and making friends I have been able to increase my understanding of Trans issues.
For many years I have been an active ally of the LGBT community in Blackpool and have been invovled in a number of LGBT charities. I was shocked to be presented with an award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the LGBT Community’ at Pride in 2015.
I love being part of a truly inclusive church where all people can feel safe and relaxed to worship and relate to Jesus as they truly are.