Christ Church Cathedral will host a series of inclusive church services for Oxford’s LGBT+ community. The services, called Sacred, will take place over a six-month period, with the first on 23 February. It will be led by Revd Marcus Green, who identifies as gay, and will include sung worship, a sermon, prayer, and a chance for people to socialise after.
Speaking to Cherwell, Revd Green said that Sacred “is aimed at LGBT+ people who value the more informal worship and Bible-based preaching style, but who some- times feel that the evangelical side of church life doesn’t always value us as LGBT+ people.” Green, the author of a book discussing Christian attitudes to sexuality, said: “People can expect informal worship and good preaching with lots of Bible but absolutely no condemnation. Everyone is welcome. And we will offer a safe space for people to pray.”
Revd Green will be accompanied by Jayne Ozanne, who will preach during the service. A prominent Oxford activist, Ozanne visited the Pope last year to give him a copy of her memoir and share her experience of conversion therapy. She has been described by The Independent as “one of the Church of England’s most influential evangelical campaigners.”
The Christ Church College Chaplain, Revd Clare Haynes, said: “We’re delighted to be able to be hosting this new initiative in the Cathedral and hope that Sacred can be a welcoming, safe and inclusive space for all people. Some people have been hurt in the past by their experiences of church, and so to hold a service that proclaims clearly that we want to witness God’s love seemed to be a good thing to do.”
Despite attempts in Oxford to welcome the LGBT+ community, more traditional views still exist amongst the Church nationally. Last month, the Church of Eng- land was forced to apologise after it stated that sexual intercourse is just for married heterosexuals. More than 3,500 people have since signed an open letter to the House of Bishops, initiated by Ozanne and three other people. The letter declares that the statement “has significantly damaged the mission of the Church and it has broken the trust of those it seeks to serve.”
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The initiative has been created by a group in the Diocese of Oxford, including Christ Church’s college chaplain, Revd Clare Hayns, and Revd Philippa White.
The services will occur once a month over the next six months.