Category Archives: LGBTI+

The September Magazine is Out

Our September magazine has just been published full of plenty to read and discover for this coming month.

We kick off with the Autumn Fayre (on Saturday, September 4, at St John’s Church, 12-4pm) then take a look at our new monthly craft market, get ready for Harvest, meet our new Youth Minister, have a think about Living in Love and Faith, and look forward to the Confirmation service on September 19. There’s a message from Anne Young in Cornwall, a huge thank-you to Wendy Edwards who is retiring, some thoughts on the changes ahead from the Church Cat and lots more, including local businesses who advertise and support us in our work.

To read all about it, download your copy below, or if you would prefer a printed version email the editor, Stella Wiseman.

Pride services at all our Churches

This Sunday (August 8) we are celebrating Pride at all of our three churches and online, here on the website.

Like Pride Month, which takes place in June, it is an opportunity to celebrate LGBTQI+ people in their fullness, to look back on strides toward equality, and to imagine a world where celebration and full inclusion is the norm, not an exception. 

Lesley Crawley explains some of the thinking behind this: “Christians have historically punished and ostracized LGBTQI+ people, scripture has been weaponized and the church has contributed to the political, relational and spiritual dehumanizing of LGBTQI+ people. This has resulted in deep pain, bullying and death and rightfully many people have been put off the church forever because of the cruel behaviour of Christians. 

“As Christians, we give up a piece of our full humanity when we forgo compassion and treat people as objects worthy of scorn or violence. Pride gives us an opportunity to end oppressive practices and ideology while also becoming more fully human ourselves. 

“In these services we repent of the past and we look with optimism to the future. We stand with people who identify as LGBTQI+ and proclaim loudly that all people are loved by God and all people are welcome here.

“We thank God for the immense diversity of human beings and the love God has for us all. We recognise the way stereotypes have limited us all in terms of being able to be truly ourselves. We celebrate love in all its forms and we thank the God of Love that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Please join us this Sunday. There is a service at St John’s Church, Lower Hale, at 9.30am, one at St George’s, Badshot Lea, at 10am, and one at St Mark’s, Upper Hale, at 11am. And, of course, we are online too:

* LGBTQI+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex and the ‘+’ is for others who don’t fit one of these labels

Christmas services

Join us in person and online this Christmas. We have services for all ages where you will be welcome.

We have done everything we can to ensure that you will feel safe from Covid in our churches. Please wear a mask if you are able – we appreciate that not everyone can – follow the directions in the church and stay within your own ‘bubble’.

If you are not able or comfortable about coming to church, please join us online here. We will also be streaming Midnight Mass for you.

Everyone is welcome in our churches. As members of Inclusive Church we want to reiterate that, whatever your background, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity or economic status, you are welcome. If you are neurodiverse, you are welcome; if you have mental health challenges, or a learning or physical disability, you are welcome. Whoever and however you are, you are welcome. Please ask if you need any assistance.

Variety in the Church of England

I recently saw this article in The Guardian. It highlighted for me one of the good, and at the same time bad, things about the Church of England.

The CofE is what is described as a broad church. Many Churches have a Statement of Belief, and if you want to belong to their Church you have to sign to say that you agree with everything in it. The Church of England does not. Instead if you can say the liturgy with integrity you are in. Queen Elizabeth I arranged this on purpose at a time when Christians were killing each other over differences of interpretation. She said:

I would not open windows into men’s souls.

This leaves the Church of England with a wide spread of beliefs/interpretations which are legitimately held by members. I like this, it means that we know that we are not expected to know the mind of God – that as Oliver Cromwell said:

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.

However, some strands of the Church of England are more comfortable with this than others. It is in some ways as though the Church is a collection of several different churches.

This is a long-winded way of saying that within the Church of England you will be able to find churches as described in the article, and at the same time you will be able to find those, like ours, which are members of Inclusive Church, and which try to welcome everybody.

There are of course other churches which welcome LGBTQI+ people more than the CofE is able to do while we struggle to work out how to do this in a way that satisfies everybody within the church.

The linked article by a vicar gives a flavour of the difficulties faced finding one which welcomes everyone.

Don’t give up on God yet!

Image by Belinda Fewings, Unsplash

Living in Love and Faith – an initial response

Last month, the Church of England published Living in Love and Faith. This is a collection of resources – a book, study guide, podcasts, videos, links to online material – designed to help people to discuss and listen to God about matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

There are a lot of resources and we have yet to work out what we will do with them in the parish. Alan and I will be talking about them shortly, when we have digested them properly, but, as members of Inclusive Church, we welcome any discussion of these important issues insofar as they enable us to understand more about each other and accept each other.

Moreover, here in the parish, we remain absolutely committed to the inclusion of all. Whether you are lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, questioning, asexual, you are welcome. Whether you are transgender, cisgender or nonbinary, you are welcome. Whether you were born with intersex traits or not, you are welcome. God welcomes us and that isn’t going to change.

I’d also like to thank those who have taken part in this process as they have made themselves vulnerable in sharing their stories. Such vulnerability is costly and the cost has already been too high for some of the participants.

So please, whatever we do, let’s go forward with grace and love.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

Stella Wiseman,
Inclusive Church Ambassador, Surrey

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when we remember those transgender or gender diverse people who have died because of who they are, whether through violence, suicide or medical inequality

It is estimated that at least 409 people across the world are known to have died because they were transgender or gender diverse. The youngest was just 15, the oldest 79. That is just those who are known. Countless others have been on the receiving end of violence and abuse, have been made to feel worthless and afraid.

The church is not blameless; the church has added to the transphobia which causes this violence and abuse, these murders, these suicides, these medical inequalities. I am not saying that this parish has done so, I am not accusing any one individual church, and there are hugely welcoming and affirming churches across the world. But the church as a whole has not been like this, the church continues to discriminate and preach against those who do not fit gender ‘norms’.

There are two videos here. The first is a video here is a quiet and sad reflection about these terrible facts and a call for us to see where we can bring about a change.

The second is a deeply moving and sombre service, produced by Open Table Network

For a list of those lost this year, together with some of their stories, visit… To respond to the latest consultation about the rights of trans and non-binary people in the UK, visit…  

Here in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale we stand with our transgender and gender non-conforming siblings, all of us beloved by God. And we are sorry for when we have failed you.

Picture by Ted Eytan.

Celebrate Pride and God’s Love

Join us to celebrate Pride on Saturday, August 8, here online from 10am.

August 8 should have been marked by a Surrey Pride march and celebrations on the street but these had to be cancelled because of Covid-19. However, we are celebrating the LGBTI+ community and God’s wonderful, inclusive love with an online service.

There will be music, art, photography, prayers, poetry, Bible readings and reflections from individuals including a former curate of St George’s whom some of you may remember – Rev’d Paul Holt – along with Sara Gillingham, a leading intersex campaigner and great friend of the parish; Jayne Ozanne who runs the Ozanne Foundation which works with religious organisations to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender; and Dr Ash Brockwell, a transgender man and educator who has contributed both a poem and hymn to the service.

There is a moving reflection on growing up as a gay man from James Muller, a Farnham photographer whose work features regularly in Vogue Italia, and who has kindly contributed many of his beautiful photographs; there is art from local people, including paintings by members of Farnham Heath End School’s LGBT+ group, and stones painted with rainbow messages to indicate God’s love for everyone.

Stella Wiseman, who leads inclusion work in the parish, explains the thinking behind the service: “The church as a whole doesn’t have a great track record in welcoming people who do not fit into a heterosexual, cis-gender box, and indeed has caused great harm to many LGBTI+ people. This is something we need to repent of and make amends for. We have no right to limit God’s love and welcome like this and to damage and destroy people in the name of God is appalling.

“Thankfully, things are changing and many churches, such as those in this parish, are more welcoming and inclusive now. Some of us would have been walking under the Christians at Pride banner in Woking on August 8th but Covid-19 has put paid to that. So instead we are organizing this lovely, colourful service online and we are delighted that members of the local church are taking part along with friends from other churches. We are really grateful to them for giving up their time to share with us their experience of God’s love and welcome and grateful too for the art, photography and music.

“Pride in Surrey is taking a Pride-themed vehicle around the county that weekend too and will be live-streaming and the parish has just been asked to send a contribution to the online Pride. The Pride vehicle will be making its way to Farnham on Sunday 9th at 10am so watch out for that too. You can find out more on”

Everyone is invited to join the service online here on Saturday, August 8 , from 10am and on our Facebook page:

Painting a rainbow

We are holding a Pride Service online on Saturday, August 8, in celebration of the LGBTI+ community and God’s love for us all.

We’d like people to paint rocks in rainbow colours, with pictures, designs or messages of love and inclusion on them. We plan to have the painted rocks at St Mark’s like the one in the picture below, painted by Aly Buckle. Or how about some other art to celebrate inclusion, like the ones above which were painted by members of the LGBT+ group at Farnham Heath End School?

We will tell you when to bring your rocks and other art and take a video of people bringing them to the church and include the video in our Pride service. If you can’t come yourself send Stella a photo of the rocks/pictures you have painted.

More on the Pride Service shortly.

MP, Mayor and Intersex advocate choose favourite hymns

Jeremy Hunt, MP; the Mayor of Farnham; a prominent advocate for those born with intersex traits; and other key members of the local community, are all taking part in an online service of their favourite hymns, which will be online here on Wednesday, June 10, from 6pm.

Each person has chosen a hymn and will introduce it online explaining why they like it and what their Christian faith means to them. The hymns are a mix of old and new, and range from the 17th century My Song is Love Unknown, chosen by Janet Martin, one of the key organisers of the Farnham Flash Festival, to the 1980s’ one The Servant King, chosen by Sara Gillingham. Sara, an accountant by profession, also works with the church, universities and the media to raise awareness of people born with intersex traits, which is her own story.

Each speaks about what the hymn and their faith means to them – for Sara Gillingham it is a faith in a God full of grace, in whose image we are made, and Christ there beside us; while Jeremy Hunt speaks of the stillness which his faith gives him and how it is reflected in his choice of hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. Among the other hymns you can hear are Father I Place into Your Hands, chosen by Bob Skinner, whom many will know from Farnham Foodbank, and Faithful One so Unchanging, the choice of Cathy Burroughs, manager of Hale Community Centre. You will also hear the rousing God is our Strength and Refuge, chosen by Pat Evans, the Mayor of Farnham, and sung to The Dam Busters March.

Lesley Crawley explains the thinking behind the service: “Favourite hymns can speak to us on a deep level, through the music and the words, and help us understand more about God and our faith. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to hear the choices of those who have so kindly contributed and understand more about what their faith means to them.”

Join us here on Wednesday, June 10, from 6pm, or on Facebook or on the parish YouTube channel. You may even want to sing along!