In The South

Gay Christians mark major milestone

Gary Hart May 28, 2016


A pioneering gay Christian group celebrated its fortieth anniversary with a service in central London last weekend.

WEB.600.2LGCM – founded as the Gay Christian Movement in 1976 – returned to St Botolph’s church, Aldgate for a service of thanksgiving and celebration.

Tracey Byrne
Tracey Byrne

Tracey Byrne, the charity’s CEO, said:  “This is a really important milestone for us, and it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to reflect on all that’s changed since 1976.”

“Many of our members have been involved in activism through some really challenging times – the very worst of the section 28 years, and of course, the AIDS crisis.  Many of them were heavily involved in caring and campaigning, as well as living with the devastation of losing their friends to the virus.  And of course, many paid a heavy price for their visibility – losing job, friends and family –  when society was much more hostile towards gay and lesbian people than it is today.”

St Botolph’s was home to the Movement in its early years, before it was evicted by the Bishop of London in a high-profile legal case.

After almost 30 years in Bethnal Green, the charity moved its operation out of the capital to Nottingham last year, but still works across the Christian denominations, both nationally and internationally.

Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, was the preacher.  Founder member and former rector of St Botolph’s, Malcolm Johnson, spoke and poet Rosie Miles wrote special prayers for the occasion, as she did for the Movement’s 25th anniversary service at Southwark cathedral.  A quarter peal was rung in celebration, prior to the service.

Ms. Byrne, continued: “Over the past couple of years, we’ve lost a number of our founding members including Ken Leech and Jim Cotter, and it feels important to continue to honour their memory and to give thanks for all that’s brought us to where we are today.  It will be a day of both thanksgiving and celebration.  We’re expecting members and supporters, current and former trustees of all ages to join us, and we’re especially delighted that both Martyn and Malcolm are able to be with us.  I should be a really special day, when we celebrate our heritage and commit ourselves to all that remains to be done.”