Anthony Venn-Brown today announced that he is stepping down from his leadership role with Freedom 2 b[e], the support group for LGBT people from Christian backgrounds that he helped found nearly six years ago.
Respected community leader Venn-Brown, who was voted as one of the 25 most influential gay and lesbian Australians in both 2007 and 2009, is resigning as convenor to focus on his coaching business, developing educational resources for the LGBT community and churches, as well as his bridge-building activities between the two groups.
Freedom 2 b[e] will continue to operate its online community resources with over 1000 members, youth activities, and monthly chapter meetings in Sydney and Melbourne. A Brisbane Chapter is expected to commence shortly.
“Although it is sad to see Anthony go, we will keep our focus on saving lives, preventing harm, and empowering LGBT people from Christian backgrounds through reconciliation of their sexuality and/or gender identity and their faith,” Melbourne chapter leader Michelle Kolev said.
Venn-Brown published his autobiography A Life of Unlearning in 2004, which told the story of the battle between his same-sex orientation and his Christian beliefs, the loss of his role as a married man with a family
and as a high-profile Pentecostal preacher, and the ultimate reconciliation between his gay identity and his faith.
“I was overwhelmed with contact from readers of the book who were also struggling with similar conflicts involving faith and sexuality – especially from people in those conservative, evangelical and charismatic churches which took a strong stand against homosexuality,” he said.
This response led to the establishment of Freedom 2 b[e] as a support group for questioning people, and the development of an ‘ambassador’ role for Venn-Brown which breaks barriers and builds bridges between church leaders and gay and lesbian people.
Through this role, Venn-Brown has seen many advances made between the LGBT community and churches.
“There is a growing climate of questioning and change in the church. There are now many Christians who have become accepting,” he said.
“Those opposing us may attract some media attention but are actually in the minority and are a dying breed.”