WHEN devout Christians Elizabeth Plant and Bec Apted moved to south Sydney, they struggled to find a church that fully accepted them as LGBTI people.
“We live out in south Sydney close to St George and they’re are no affirming churches we can find for LGBTI people who are Christian,” Plant said.
“We want to be authentic in our faith and sexuality.”
Taking matters into their own hands, the partners have set up their own church to fill the void for people who might not be welcomed with open arms by other churches.
Named Spark, the church will meet fortnightly on Sundays at 6pm at the 3Bridges community centre in Penshurst starting from August 28. It will be an independent, non-denominational church that is welcoming to all Christians whether they are LGBTI or not.
Both have had long experiences in ministering services and studying theology.
“Spark is a word that has a meaning for both our relationship and faith,” Plant said.
“We love the idea of being able to spark a connection with God for people who have been told they can’t or told shouldn’t have that connection. Or we want to spark something for people who don’t have that spark, who may have been hurt by the church.”
“We want them to know they are loved by God and they are whole beautiful creatures created by a God who loves them.”
The ladies admit reconciling their faith and sexuality was a hard journey, especially when many LGBTI people have rejected religion over discrimination they have faced at the hands of churches.
“We believe it’s a call from God,” Apted said.
“It’s a journey a lot of people have to go through, our personal journeys we were that we were Christians first and then realised our sexuality and we had to go through that journey which can be quite painful.
“For us we believe spirituality is important and God is a creator and loves humanity and loves all people.”
“And want to express that love for all people. We want our kids to know they’re loved and accepted.”
LGBTI people do not owe their loyalty to the church, but some people miss being part of a community and will relish the opportunity to join a inclusive church according to Reverend Karl Hand of Crave Metropolitan Community Church.
“It’s always difficult if you’re part of the LGBTI community, many churches won’t be hostile to you but won’t openly support you but because of fear of creating controversy or their theological beliefs,” he said.
“I don’t think the church has done anything to deserve people’s loyalty, but faith is an important part of people’s identity.
“While they don’t miss the persecution, they miss belonging to a community and to a faith tradition. They miss the connection to something bigger than what’s in their day to day life.
“I don’t think they should come to church out of sense of obligation, but if they want to express their faith they should be allowed to do so.”
People interested in attending Spark can email Plant and Apted at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.