Tag Archives: events

Event: Reflections on Palestine with Richard Graham MP

Thursday 20th December, 7.00pm

An evening of talks and discussions to update on the situation and share first hand experiences of Palestine.

Guest Speakers – Steve Hynd and Gloucester MP Richard Graham 

Venue – The Friendship Café, Barton Street, Gloucester, GL1 4RH

Steve Hynd has recently spent 5 months living in the West Bank with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The programme brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation. They provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. Steve will be talking about his time spent there and his experiences with the Palestinians.

Richard Graham has taken a very personal interest in the Holy Lands having visited the West Bank of Palestine, Gaza and Israel. The political arena surrounding this area is a very complex one, and with the recent unrest in Gaza, our government’s role in shaping the future for that region is vital. Richard will be giving us an update on that political situation, and sharing some of his own views and experiences of the area.

The evening is a free event and open to all. If you have any questions or need more information please contact Imran Atcha on 01452 308127 or email gymnation@btclick.com

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Filed under Gloucestershire, Human rights, Middle East, Politics

A walk of repentance for homophobia

Symon HillSymon Hill embodies the polar opposite of the sort archetypal Christian I address in my blog post “Do not use Christianity to justify your own homophobic prejudices“. In that blog I argued some Christians used their faith as a lazy excuse to perpetuate their own homophobic views.  This is stark contrast to Symon who is actively using his Christian views to question prejudice.

If some Christians are complacent in my previous criticism, then Symon Hill is there to challenge them (I might add from a far superior theological understanding to myself). On this occasion he is doing this by undertaking a walk of repentance for his previously held views on sexuality. He will walk 150-200 miles from Birmingham to London stopping at churches to raise awareness of the issue.

Symon has a powerful back story which adds weight to his walk. Earlier this year he told Pinknews, “I was fine with homosexuality and bisexuality before I became a Christian in my late teens. But after my conversion, I thought that opposition to same-sex relationships was ‘part of the deal’, even though my own sexual feelings had not been exclusively heterosexual (and still aren’t). This was partly out of a desire to fit in at the church I had joined. That church was very good in many ways, and had a very positive effect on me in other areas of my life, but I think they were severely mistaken about sexuality. Having adopted that view, I then campaigned against the ordination of ministers in same-sex relationships and spoke out strongly against Christian acceptance of
homosexuality.”

Symon is now repenting for the hurt he caused during this time. Interestingly for me, he has attracted wide-spread support from across different denominations. Symon suggests that this “is a reminder that there is growing acceptance of same-sex relationships across nearly all wings of Christianity. Church divisions over sexuality are not – as the media sometimes imply – a matter of “liberals” on the one hand and “conservatives” or “evangelicals” on the other”. In his words and actions he is giving reformers within all denominations a focal point and a voice.

I find his boldness and strength of conviction heartening. I have had the pleasure of previously attending a training session that he was running (on a completely different issue), and can vouch for his passion, integrity and enthusiasm. I would encourage anyone who is free to go and listen to him speak. I am sure he would be able to tackle the potential antagonisms between Christianity and homosexuality with more grace, composure and eloquence than I can ever hope to muster.

I wish Symon all the best on his walk. I am sure it will be challenging for him both physically but also emotionally. Let me know your thoughts if you go to hear him speak.

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Filed under Religion, sexuality