Cambridge University colleges hold new chapel services for gay and transgender Christians in a bid to be more inclusive
- King’s, Trinity and St John’s colleges are holding new inclusive sermons
- Revd Andrew Hammond of King’s wants LGBT Christians to ‘encounter God’
- Comes after CofE issued school guidance to be encouraging of trans children
Three Cambridge University colleges are holding special new chapel services for gay and transgender Christians in an effort to be more inclusive.
The sermons aim to create a ‘safe sacred space’ and show that Christianity can be welcoming of anyone, regardless of ‘sexuality or gender identity’.
One service, held recently at the famous King’s College Chapel from where Christmas Eve carols are broadcast, involved the congregation sitting on rugs on the floor and listening to trendy relaxing music in a bid to break with tradition.
Reverend Andrew Hammond, chaplain at the college, said he believed Church teaching needed to change on controversial issues because what mattered was the ‘quality of the love, not the gender of the lovers.’
For the first time, he is holding three ‘inclusive’ services this term aimed at helping lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Christians to ‘encounter God’.
Three Cambridge University colleges, including King’s College (pictured), are holding special new chapel services for gay and transgender Christians in an effort to be more inclusive
Meanwhile, Trinity and St John’s colleges have announced they are also holding similar events.
Reverend Hammond told student newspaper Varsity: ‘I wanted to do something that was very, very different, but still cohered with the general values of the place.’
He came up with the idea after being invited to perform Amazing Grace with drag queen Courtney Act at a student event earlier this year and was moved by the positive response.
For Cambridge University Colleges – King’s, Trinity and St.John’s – to embrace the new understanding of LGBTQ people as being welcome at chapel services, in an environment more open to change than the usual liturgical setting, is indicative of a new atmosphere of openness by the Church in the University situation to a minority who may feel excluded otherwise.
This initiative gives evidence of a radically new understanding of the situation of a class of people that have, hitherto, been seen to be on the edge of University life – simply because of their diversity of gender or sexual orientation.
This new openness to LGBTQ students and staff of one of England’s premier universities – following upon the official guidelines being issued to Church Schools on the treatment of LGBTQ students – marks a new and exciting era of understanding of the reality of the problems of a minority in the education system whose lives have formerly been subject to hostility and suspicion on account of their inbuilt sexuality and gender identification.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand