The International Conference of LGBT Christians took place in Moscow on 21-22 November 2009. Here's a report from Ihar Ivanou
Thank you too all who sent their best wishes to the Conference. It was a very enjoyable event; the feedback was tremendous, many were deeply touched by an opportunity of meeting other LGBT Christians. Hopefully, there will be a lot of positive developments as the result. Of course, it would not be possible to change homophobic attitudes in Church communities and the society at large very quickly; I guess the most tangible outcome of the Conference we can hope for is that LGBT people of faith will not feel as isolated as before.
When the day before the Conference the organisers met to discuss plans and arrangements for the last time, we could not imagine what form the Sunday worship could take. There was no a hosting group from a particular denomination to take responsibility for the form and content; and we also knew that the participants will be from a number of Churches with different liturgical traditions and theologies; some of those Churches have no easy relationships among themselves, so there was no obvious how we could reconcile those differences. We - a kind of - surrendered in desperation... and left it to the participants to deal with our problem. Gard from Norway and Maxim, an Orthodox priest from Kyrgyzstan, did a great job - quite a spontaneous Eucharistic celebration in Russian and English. Thank you to Leah from Moldova for pushing the boundaries and Martin Pendergast from London for organising Taize songs on the spot! A number of people cried, so touching the celebration was!
On personal level, I was very surprised by the participants from Ukraine. Already, they are very active in providing a web-based ministry (the site is in Ukrainian and Russian); they also are developing face-to-face activities, both within human rights and HIV/AIDS work, and independently from other engagements. For example, they are organising a summer camp for young LGBT Christians in Crimea in 2010. Web-wise, they help people to get in touch with friendly clergy, get answers on their questions and offer a "prayer corner" where people can leave their requests for prayer. Such a dedicated and creative folk!
LGBT Catholics from London (Soho Masses) were very generous in supporting the Conference. At the same time it was tremendous, very humbling to see that many participants from the post-USSR countries contributed above the minimal Conference fee to make this event happen.
I have strong faith in what's happening in the Eastern Europe now. If you can join other events there, please use those opportunities to support the folk and experience all the excitement coming with that!