A new chaplaincy service for the LGBTQIA+ community has been set up by the Diocese. It will be led by the Revd Sarah Hildreth-Osborn and will have a base at St Grwst Church, Llanrwst, where Sarah is the Vicar.
Two other churches in the Diocese, St Peter’s in Holywell and St Giles in Wrexham will also host regular LGBTQIA+ services.
The Chaplaincy exists because the Christian faith has something to offer everyone including LGBTQIA+ people. However because the Church has caused such hurt to the LGBTQIA+Community over many years we now need to create safe, sacred space, welcome them among us and allow LGBTQIA+people to be who they are, wonderfully created in the image of God and loved just as much as anyone else!
The regular meetings will be based on Open Table Eucharists. You can download this leaflet for more information in Welsh and English: LGBTQIA+ Chaplaincy
The dates of the first meetings are:
- January, 5: St Peter’s Church, Holywell, 7pm
- January, 12: St Giles Church, Wrexham, 7pm
- January, 16: St Gwrst Church, Llanrwst, 7pm
You can find a full list of dates here: Open Table Dates
The objectives of the LGBTQIA+Chaplaincy
- Create safe, sacred space where LGBTQIA+ people can worship and share their stories
- Engender a sense of welcome and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people across the Diocese
- Offer support to parishes who want to explore the creation of ministry specifically to the LGBTQIA+ Community
- Provide support to Clergy and a listening ear in matters which involve LGBTQIA+ people
- Initiate retreats and quiet days for members of the LGBTQIA+ Community and allies
- Raise awareness among secular groups and organisations e.g Young Peoples LGBTQIA+ Groups and Social Services of the existence of the Chaplaincy
- Work with existing Chaplaincies e.g. Coleg Cambrian Chaplaincy
- Liaise with Changing Attitude Cymru
- Become a continued presence within the Diocese and to be supportive in all that the Diocese is seeking to do in bringing the Gospel to all of God’s people
- The Chaplain to undertake training and networking with others involved in this ministry
Sarah recently did an interview with Teulu Asaph, the diocesan magazine, in which she outlined her plans. You can read the article here:
What is an LGBTQIA+ chaplaincy?
The chaplaincy will be a safe sacred space where LGBTQIA+ people can gather to explore their spirituality and be affirmed as created in the image of God. It will be rooted in the belief that all are welcome and focus on pastoral care.
What sort of support, services or activities will you provide?
I’m looking to organize a Eucharist specifically for the LGBTQIA+ community at least once a month. Already, St Grwst here in Llanwrst has agreed to be a base for the chaplaincy along with St Peter’s in Holywell and St Giles in Wrexham. The chaplaincy will be holistic in its approach: after each service there will be an opportunity for fellowship, to share stories and learn from each other’s journey of faith.
How can people access this service?
The service is open to everyone and there is information on the diocesan website. Clergy colleagues will be able to refer people to me, especially those seeking information about marriage and blessings.
Will you be working alone or will there be other chaplains?
At the moment it’s just me as chaplain but there are plenty of other supportive clergy and lay people across the Diocese. In these early stages, I think it’s important that those leading services are themselves members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
What do you say to those who will struggle to support this?
This chaplaincy is rooted in pastoral support offering a welcome to all to meet with God, just as you are. Many in the diocese will support this and see it as a mission to those on the margins. To those who aren’t supportive, I’d say, ‘If you’re judging people, you have no time to love them! We need to stop using scripture to hurt people.’
How will your experience shape the support you offer?
I can only draw on my own experience. As a gay woman I spent years being told, often by fellow Christians, I was wrong and ‘a sinner’. I’ve learnt now that God is so much bigger, wiser and kinder than the church and I want to offer that pastoral care and support to others. For years I couldn’t say the words of Ps 139 ‘I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’ I can now and I want everyone, regardless of their sexuality, to be able to do the same.