In the history of gay and lesbian theology, and the steady path to full LGBT inclusion, Fr John McNeill holds a place of honour. His pioneering book, “The Church and the Homosexual” broke new groun when first published in 1976, and continues to be frequently cited even today, 37 years later. He paid a heavy price for his courage in publishing this work, which directly challenged the conventional Catholic doctrine on the subject. He was ordered to cease all writing on this topic, and for a time he complied – until he felt obliged in conscience to continue writing. This led to his forced expulsion from his beloved Jesuit order, and a time of great material and emotional difficulty which ensued.
What helped to sustain him during this great trial, were the love and support of his partner Charles – and the absolute conviction that no matter how much
the Church or human society may turn against one, God never will. This idea is at the core of much of his writing and subsequent life work, summed up in the title of one of his books – “Taking a Chance on God“. It was natural, then, that when the filmmaker Brendan Fay made a biopic on the life of John McNeill, he adopted the same title for the film. In the same spirit, a group of LGBT Catholic and other Christian organizations and individuals have collaborated to arrange a workshop in London, at which participants will be challenged, by the example and inspiration of McNeill, to consider the ways in which they too can make a difference, by “taking a chance on God”.Bringing together an astonishing range of impressive speakers to guide the workshop, I suspect that this will go down as a landmark event in the history of LGBT inclusion in church, UIK. I’ll be there, and at the follow – up.public screening of the film at Curzon Mayfair, Monday 4th November, Book your very reasonably priced tickets for both, at eventbrite
From the facebook event page for the workshop:
A day long workshop for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer / Questioning) Christians and their allies
How are we called to be disciples and leaders? What does our experience as LGBTQ Christians, or as straight allies and friends, teach us about trust, faith, and spiritual growth?
This day long workshop in the heart of London at historic St. Martin-in-the-Fields offers fellowship, input, and space for those who feel called to deeper reflection, and for those who feel inspired to spirit-led action.
Join us as LGBTQ pastors and theologians reflect personally on the challenges and risks of leadership in a sometimes unwelcoming church. Find inspiration in the stories of others. Gain tools for sustainable ministry. Find the room to notice how God may be calling you out of your own comfort zone – calling you more deeply into service, or activism, or prophecy, or leadership, or prayer.
•Sharon Ferguson, MCC minister and Chief Executive of LGCM (The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement);
•Nicola Slee, a nationally renowned theologian and poet;
•Bernárd Lynch, psychotherapist and Catholic gay activist;
•James Alison, acclaimed theologian;
•Brendan Fay, film producer and Christian grass-roots organizer; and
•A representative from Lesbian Exploring Faith Together (LEFT).
Our leader will be Clare Herbert, Lecturer in Inclusive Theology at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
The workshop is inspired by the story of the Revd. John McNeill –Jesuit priest, accomplished psychotherapist, AIDS crisis minister, and out gay theologian. At first encouraged to speak against Christian homophobia, John was silenced by Vatican authorities in 1977. When ten years later he spoke out once again, he was expelled from the Jesuit order at the insistence of (then) Cardinal Ratzinger. John has continued to write and minister to LGBTQ people of faith, publishing on pastoral and theological themes. Our workshop includes the premier UK screening of his recently completed biographical documentary.
Supported by his loving husband Charley, and by the prayers of LGBTQ and allied believers, John McNeill continues to encourage all Christians to follow their calling and “take a chance on God.”
Order tickets via Eventbrite, http://
takingachanceongoad-efbevent .eventbrite.co.uk/ , or if you would prefer a different method of payment/ RSVP, please send us a message to TakingAChanceOnGodWorkshop2013@gmai l.com.
Watch this space, more details to come.
Organised by Changing Attitude, a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual members of the Church of England. It works for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the Anglican Communion. http://
This event is also sponsored by
Catholics for AIDS Prevention & Support (CAPS), a network of catholics in Britain and Ireland promoting HIV prevention and support. It aims to be a voice in the church for people living with HIV / AIDS and a catholic voice in the world of HIV / AIDS. http://www.caps-uk.org/
Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement is a UK-based international Charity which challenges homophobia and transphobia, especially within the Church and faith based organisations, as well as working to create and praying for an inclusive church. http://www.lgcm.org.uk/
McNeill, John: The Church and the Homosexual(new ed) Beacon Press, 1996
McNeill, John: Freedom Glorious Freedom: The Spiritual Journey to the Fullness of Life for Gays, Lesbians, and Everybody Else (Beacon Press, 1995)
McNeill, John: Both Feet Firmly Planted in Midair: My Spiritual Journey
McNeill, John: Taking a Chance on God: Liberating Theology for Gays, Lesbians and Their Lovers, Families and Friends Beacon Press, 1988, 1996
McNeill, John: Sex As God Intended Lethe Press, 2008
Alison, James: Faith Beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay (Darton Longman Todd, 2001) 239 pages*
Alison, James: On Being Liked (Darton Longman Todd, 2003) 168 pages*
Alison, James: Undergoing God: Dispatches from the Scene of a Break-in (Darton Longman Todd, 2005)*
Alison, James: Broken Hearts New Creations: Intimations of a Great Reversal (Darton Longman Todd)*
Lynch, Bernard: A Priest on Trial Bloomsbury, 1993
Lynch, Bernard: If it Wasn’t Love: Sex, Death and God
- You CAN Make A Difference. (Yes, YOU!) (queeringthechurch.com)
- Jesuit video series: ‘A gay identity can inspire and deepen a Christian faith’ (rawstory.com)
- Documentary tells of Jesuit priest expelled for challenging Vatican teaching on homosexuality (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Beyond Respectful Tolerance to Celebratory Acceptance (thewildreed.blogspot.com)