Winner 'Most Innovative Youth Work' 2016 National Christian Youth work Awards
Diverse Church has been chosen as Most Innovative Youth Work at the 2016 Christian Youth Work Awards. This is the first time that a national Christian award has been presented to an organisation working with LGBT+ people.
Diverse Church is a supportive community of over 350 young LGBT+ Christians aged 18-30 in UK and the Republic of Ireland. It welcomes young people from a wide variety of denominations including Anglican, Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, the Salvation Army and focuses support on those in the most conservative parts of the church. The group sees itself as a pastoral resource for the wider church so that young LGBT+ people do not need to give up on life or God. Members are linked together by imaginative use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and have regular regional and national meet ups. They recently launched DC:Parents, a similar group for the Christian Parents of LGBT people and are about to launch DC:Youth for under 18 year olds.
DC was founded in 2013 by Reverend Sally Hitchiner, an Anglican chaplain at Brunel University, London. Sally found that many Christian young LGBT people were coming to her for advice and support. Many were not Out or had experienced rejection and reparative therapy when they had spoken out.
The organisation is careful not to prescribe whether its members should be for or against gay marriage but offers creative support for each member to grow in their Christian faith and to explore what this means for them. “The members of Diverse Church show what’s possible for all young people in the church today” said Sally Hitchiner. “They are committed to each other and to God, honest, creative, compassionate and full of faith. They have a lot to offer the wider church and it’s wonderful to see that being recognised.”
Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, chairs the Council of Reference for Diverse Church. He said ‘I’m delighted that this award recognises the creative contribution of Diverse Church. For too long the church has not just neglected LGBT people and overlooked their gifts, it has actively suppressed their contribution and vilified their identity. DC is fundamentally a movement of thanksgiving to God for the gift of one another, and a journey of discovery of what a church that is truly thankful rather than suspicious and fearful might look like.’ The judging panel for the Youth Work Award was led by Robin Barden, who is Director of the Institute for Children, Youth and Mission Studies at Ridley Hall, Cambridge University. He said “We were particularly struck by how Diverse Church facilitates young people at the margins to engage with the wider church in a manner that both respects and enables their voices to be heard.” Diverse Church will receive a cash prize to invest in their work.
You can watch a video of the Award Ceremony for the Category here