THE Gosford Anglican priest who has garnered an international following for his provocative church signs will be the keynote speaker at special LGBTI-inclusive Christmas Eve service at Sydney Town Hall.

Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Sydney announced Father Rod Bower as a special guest for his signs that supported LGBTI rights and asylum seekers.

MCC Sydney pastor Greg Smith applauded Bower for his progressive statements, and noted that this year’s service, held every year in Sydney Town Hall, would have a special focus on including asylum seekers.

“This Christmas we really want the LGBTI community to stand up for those on the receiving on end of societies animus,” Smith said.

“We LGBTI people know only to well what it’s like to be a persecuted minority and we want to make sure our Christmas Eve service is as inclusive as possible for those wanting to start a new life in this wonderful country.

“We feel Father Rod will really bring that focus to a head.”

Smith said this would be the first time an Australian Anglican priest would speak at an MCC Christmas Eve Service, and he was mindful of the risks that Bower had taken within the Anglican Church — especially from the Sydney diocese that is perceived to be more conservative.

“He’s had people leave his church and I think it’s high time MCC Sydney and the LGBTI community acknowledged the work of Father Rod in support of marriage equality and LGBTI rights,” Smith said.

MCC Sydney has in recent times extended its ministry to refugees, helping several LGBTI asylum seekers who were at risk of deportation or were stuck in detention centres to find residency and employment in some cases.

“This Christmas when we’re opening our presents in front of our Christmas trees, I’d really encourage our community to spare a thought for those less fortunate, especially young children, stuck in detention centres as a result of the cruel policies of both major parties,” Smith said.

Christmas Eve 2014 at Sydney Town Hall will feature an array of Christmas Carols and solo performances.

The Sydney Homotones will be performing with the MCC Sydney Singers choir, with solo performances from Julia Wee and Paul Gaspar.

Find out more on MCC Sydney’s website. Services begins at 8pm on December 24.

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