Press Report of the European Forum Conference 2014
The European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups brings various gay Christian groups across Europe in contact with each other. The European Forum is an ecumenical network that provides support for LGBT Christians, works for equality for LGBT people within and through the Christian churches of Europe. The annual European Forum Conference is held aimed to exchange experience and inspiration for the member groups.
The conference 2014 took place as a Baltic cruise in three different countries; Stockholm in Sweden, Tallinn in Estonia and Helsinki in Finland. This years theme of the conference was Sailing with Hope, and according to an Estonian myth a white ship is a symbol for hope and freedom. Over 100 participants of the conference, from 23 different countries, came to Tallinn with a white ferry with the trust to bring hope to LGBT Christians. Those participants reflected the great diversity of different situations for LGBT Christians within Cristian churches in Europe; from churches fully accepting LGBT, to churches where rejection is massive.
The European Forum strengthend it´s network and cooperation during the conference with
- WCC (World Council of Churches)
- Council of Europe, the European Network Church on the Move
- GIN-SSOGIE (Global Interfatih Network for all Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions)
- Other Sheep
- COC Netherlands
- and ILGA- Europe.
International guests came from Canada and the USA, representing MCC Metropolitan Community Church, and the Lutheran organisation ReconcilingWorks.
The Eastern European program works for solidarity and offers a Mentoring Program to support LGBT Christian leaders in Eastern Europe. Concerning advocacy work for Eastern Europe Florin Buhuceau presented a monitoring report on the Religous Right in Estern Europe. At the conference there were two workshop sessions for developing an advocacy plan facilitated by Joyce Hamilton from COC Netherlands.
During the conference it was decided that the European Forum will be a part of the Council 50 project that pursues advocacy work towards the Catholic Church. Preparations of a conference on LGBT theology in Poland started, and a book projekt written by LGBT Catholics. At the Annual General Meeting two new Board members were elected; Sharon (Shanon) Ferguson as female Co-President and Linda Ivarsson with the task of engaging with the media.
In Finland a rainbow mass was held in the Alppila Church and the Lutheran Bishop in Helsinki, Irja Askola, preached at the sermon about LGBT persons being welcome in the church. In conjunction with the closing ceremony of the European Forum Conference 2014 a celebration took place that many paticipants experienced very moving Next years conference will take place in Merville, in the North of France in May 2015.