How DC Started
There were various other support groups for LGBT+ Christians (most notably the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Two23). However by 2013 those groups were made up of older LGBT Christians and there was a gap in support for younger LGBT christians, particularly those who weren't yet out.
Reverend Sally Hitchiner was a university chaplain in London and as she began to come out as gay, reached out to the LGBT Society at her university. They introduced her to their Christian friends and she realised that the biggest thing they lacked was somewhere to meet other people in their situation and make friends. She set up a confidential Facebook group and invited other LGBT Christians she had met to join it.
Eventually they decided to focus on the 18-30 age group and they realised that they could help stop the years of internalised self hatred if they started telling their stories and gained a public face. They decided on the name Diverse Church not to be a church but to be a movement for increased LGBT+ inclusion in the wider church. On Easter Day 2014 the Diverse Church Twitter page was launched along with a youtube film sharing 6 of their stories. DC was born!
DC grew fast in an explosion of numbers and creativity. Members formed leadership groups to create structures to the community and outreach strategies to share their stories with the world. Worship and Christian community remained central to the DC identity with #WorshipWednesday where members share weekly what has inspired them in their faith, and in setting up structures for monthly regional hub meet ups in most cities in the UK as well as annual meet ups around the UK (particularly away from the South East of England where support is highest).
As members opened up to their parents we realised there was a need for a similar confidential space for Christian parents of LGBT+ people. Working with Two23 and various parents we planted Diverse Church Parents along similar lines.
Many of the initial members were in their late 20s and as they turned 30 we saw the need for specialist support for those who have different life experiences as LGBT Christians while protecting a space for younger LGBT+ Christians to start exploring sexuality and leadership in a dedicated space for them. Diverse Church Plus started in 2016.
In 2018 we noticed that the original DC18-30 community had grown to over 350 members and had lost it's small scale, grass roots community feel. The DC communities as a whole were approaching 1000 members and we had to decide if we were going to become a large scale organisation with formal hierarchy and inflexibility.
Sally and the trustees decided to take the radical step to become a community planting organisation where we release one new community each year to continue to support members in groups of about 100. We also decided to take a radically generous approach to our website transforming it into a platform to reduce the knowledge gap about LGBT issues and becoming a magazine format with lots of different views and perspectives.
The DC journey continues... if you become a member you will help discover the next step God has for us and the wider church.