This time last year, Christian Democratic candidate for Sydney, Peter Madden, was rallying Christians to pray that the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade would be closed down, declaring that homosexuality was a threat to society and children.

This year, however, gay community leaders and Christian leaders are coming together for talks in a conference titled A Different Conversation.

The conference has been organised by Rev Mike Hercock, the Pastor of Imagine a Baptist Church in Surry Hills and also the founder of 100 Revs; a group of 100 ministers who signed an apology in 2008 to the LGBTI community for the wrongs of the church. In a global first, ministers have marched in the Mardi Gras parade carrying signs saying “Sorry”.

“After successfully hosting A Different Conversation in previous years, we are once again opening up the conversation and encouraging dialogue between LGBTI community leaders and Christian
leaders, to respectfully hear each other’s different approaches,” said Rev Hercock.

Other Christian leaders involved include Major Paul Moulds from the Salvation Army, members of the Social Issues Committee of the Baptist Union of NSW, and Matt Glover, who was recently voted out of his church, Lilydale Baptist Church, Melbourne because of his support for marriage equality.

Gay community representatives include Anthony Venn-Brown (pictured), Rodney Croome and gay psychologist Paul Martin.

Venn-Brown said that previous dialogues have been productive.

“For too long the interaction between Christianity and the gay community has been like a boxing match. You have the right wing Christian activists in one corner and the gay activists in the other. The bell rings and they both come out fighting; usually in cyberspace or the media. We welcome the opportunity to sit down at the table and talk,” he said.

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