About Diverse Church
What is Diverse Church?
1. Diverse Church is a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (no. 1179441). Its objects are: -
a. The advancement of the Christian religion amongst lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, asexual, and intersex (LGBT+ ) Christians, in particular but not exclusively amongst those without access to Christian support for their sexuality and/or gender.
b. The promotion of equality and diversity for the public benefit by:
i. advancing education;
ii. raising awareness; and
iii. promoting understanding and inclusion;
in respect of LGBT+ Christians within the Christian church
Who are Diverse Church’s beneficiaries?
2. Diverse Church welcomes any Christians willing to affirm the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds and to support its mission and activities. The Christian faith’s ethical framework can be summarised in Jesus’ command to love God and love one’s neighbour. As sinners who have been shown unconditional love by God, a central underpinning principle of practising the Christian faith is to demonstrate those same qualities: unconditional love, and particular concern and action on behalf of the vulnerable. Similarly, as all people are made in the image of God, practising the Christian faith involves sharing one’s gifts and abilities in support of others, and developing trusting and supportive community relationships.
What does Diverse Church do?
3. Diverse Church: -
a. provides pastoral care to support and encourage LGBT+ Christians to grow in their faith;
b. mobilises communities that can act as local and online sources of peer support and encouragement for LGBT+ Christians to grow in their faith;
c. promotes theological discussion in the wider church through enabling LGBT+ Christians to share their stories through narrative, art, music and other creative media, and through academic debate.
4. Diverse Church (DC) provides programmes of support aimed at LGBT+ Christians. These programmes usually last for one year and comprise: -
a. online peer and support communities for participants, together with
b. offline faith-based social events and activities.
5. Online communities
a. DC’s online communities provide a safe space for LGBT+ Christians to share their experience of their sexuality, to discuss the interrelation of their sexuality and Christian theology, and to support each other through prayer and encouragement. Each programme has a unified online community as well as region-specific subgroups supporting face-to-face support among participants living nearby to one another.
b. Participation in Diverse Church programmes, and the inclusion in the online communities that this brings, is reviewed and approved by the Diverse Church National Director.
c. The online conversations themselves are also moderated by individuals (leaders) who have been selected for their pastoral skills and for their understanding of both Christian theology and LGBT+ experience.
d. For many, these communities represent the only accessible forum where they can find acceptance for their sexuality within an explicitly Christian framework.
6. Offline social events and activities
a. Local hubs
i. Members of Diverse Church’s online communities can also volunteer to lead, or to join, local Diverse Church ‘hubs’. These are regular local meetings, arranged by the local leader and often held in a pub, cafe, or home, where members can gather for additional mutual support and encouragement.
ii. Hubs take any form although they are usually informal and conversational, with the aims of supporting participants to grow in their faith and of fostering supportive friendships. These meetings are not advertised locally, to protect anonymity, but rather through the online community.
iii. Diverse Church has a small national team of volunteers in each of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Each national team consists of a national leader and a small volunteer team, with the team providing training, leadership and pastoral support to hub leaders on an ad-hoc basis.
b. Larger events
i. Diverse Church organises an annual gathering for all programme participants. This is a celebratory occasion to share experiences within a supportive community and to listen to speakers on subjects such as Christianity and sexuality. This larger gathering provides a broader sense of solidarity and encouragement for many attendees and often inspires further local engagement and activity throughout the year.
ii. Diverse Church also organises collective participation in relevant events recent examples being the Pride in London parade and the Greenbelt Christian festival.
c. Awareness raising activities
i. In addition to the annual gathering, Diverse Church undertakes and participates in a number of regular and one-off activities with the aim of raising awareness of LGBT+ issues within the Christian church and in society at large.
ii. There is an active Diverse Church twitter account, and occasionally representatives from Diverse Church will appear on TV, radio, and in other media to raise awareness and promote understanding and inclusion for LGBT+ people generally, and Christians in particular.
d. Partnering with other organisations
i. Diverse Church supports work by other organisations who support its objectives on an ad hoc basis as and when resources permit.
What kinds of activities are prioritised by Diverse Church?
7. The trustees of Diverse Church support the National Director in identifying and supporting activities which are:
a. targeted at LGBTAI Christians, with particular regard to those without other sources of inclusive Christian support;
b. within the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland;
c. likely to support people to grow in the Christian faith;
d. likely to raise awareness about diversity and equality issues in the Christian Church;
e. likely to promote understanding and inclusion of LGBTAI Christians within the Christian Church and/or in wider society.
Is Diverse Church International?
8. Diverse Church’s online community is available to all LGBT+ Christians regardless of geography.
a. However, the decision as to which activities to undertake is based on a review of the needs and the religious and societal context in respect of LGBT+ Christians in each particular country, and how they differ from those in England and Wales. Within the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland only minor differences have been identified, and as a result Diverse Church carries out similar activities across all those countries. Due to lack of resources and other complicating factors, including the difficulty of appropriate oversight of, and training of, Diverse Church representatives and leaders, Diverse Church currently has no intention of expanding its work to include other countries.
b. Diverse Church’s local hub leaders and national teams are currently volunteers. This means that the additional costs of undertaking activities overseas are minimal. However decisions about funding for different activities are made with regard to Diverse Church’s annual and longer-term budget forecasts and the charity’s objects (as set out at paragraph (1) above).
How does Diverse Church safeguard its constituents and manage risks?
9. Many LGBT+ Christians face the risk of discrimination if their identity becomes known. Diverse Church manages these risks as follows:
a. Participation in the Diverse Church community requires agreement not to ‘out’ anyone: everyone has the right to choose whether, when and how they come out.
b. Hub leaders do not advertise the location, time, or nature of local hub meetings outside the online Diverse Church community.
10. When specific short-term activities involve volunteers in a public-facing role, Diverse Church’s leadership team will check that these volunteers are already ‘out’, and that they have no personal or business connections that could be at risk from their public association with DC.
11. In addition, LGBT+ Christians sometimes experience acute distress, and may seek support from Diverse Church, including from volunteers, such as hub leaders who may not be trained to support them adequately. Diverse Church manages this risk as follows:-
a. In each of the Diverse Church online groups there is a disclaimer stating that Diverse Church cannot act in a professional capacity for each other (e.g. as a relationship counsellor): if members need professional help they should seek it outside of Diverse Church;
b. However, if a community member does need this kind of help then diverse Church’s community leaders will support them to find and access it as required;
12. Diverse Church convenes online live chat events to which experts are invited to share their wisdom with participants. These events help to address questions and concerns that Diverse Church itself lacks the resources or the skills to address within the community;
13. Diverse Church’s hub leaders are at the forefront of the offline support that Diverse Church members receive, yet they may lack experience of the organisational and/or pastoral requirements of such a role. Diverse Church manages this risk as follows: -
a. through the provision of a closed ‘hub leader forum’ for peer support and sharing of best practice among hub leaders;
b. through endeavouring to ensure that each country where Diverse Church operates has a national hub facilitator and two staff to provide support for hub leaders.
14. Some of our community members may be vulnerable adults who require safeguarding protections. Diverse Church manages this risk as follows:
a. With their permission the National Director will speak with their existing support team, and take appropriate action;
b. Diverse Church adheres to and maintains a safeguarding policy that directs its support for vulnerable adults.
15. From time to time Diverse Church organises specific short-term activities outside its regular work. For each such activity a bespoke risk assessment is carried out, that includes but is not limited to the themes listed above.