Prominent evangelical Anglican Jayne Ozanne will be visiting Peterborough on July 3 for a special “Tuesdays Till Two” lunchtime talk entitled “Thank God I’m Gay!” in the city centre’s St John’s Church.
Jayne (pictured), whose autobiography Just Love has recently been published, will be telling her personal story of her journey to self-acceptance, a 40 year struggle to reconcile her faith with her sexuality, before she came out in 2015, and quickly became one of the leading figures that is ushering in a new era of LGBTI acceptance in the church.
The talk is taking place as part of Peterborough PRIDE , a week long city-wide celebration, starting on June 29, featuring everything from picnics and swim sessions to club nights and a special church service, organised to support and celebrate the city’s LGBTQIA+ communities.
Alun Williams, one of the churchwardens at St John’s, has been attending planning sessions for Peterborough PRIDE on behalf of the church after being invited to do so by vicar Canon Ian Black.
St John’s recently became the first church in the city to gain membership of “Inclusive Church”, an organisation of Christians dedicated to eliminating all forms of discrimination within the church, and St John’s is waiving the hire fee usually charged to the organisers of Tuesdays Till Two to enable donations at the talk to be given to Jayne’s own charity promoting LGBTI inclusion by faith groups, the Ozanne Foundation. The Green Backyard’s pop-up café, a regular fixture at Tuesdays Till Two, will also be donating 50% of its profits on the day to the foundation.
Rev Canon Black, who is also the Rural Dean of Peterborough, said: “St John’s has been a welcoming church for everyone, without discrimination for a very long time.
“An open welcome for everyone is one of our core values. It is also a place where contentious issues can be debated in a safe environment and is not afraid to take a stand where it believes this is important.
“I have been ordained for 25 years and every church I have led has included people from all backgrounds.
“People from the LGBTI+ community have been welcome and have played key and valued roles in the life and witness of those churches.
“As with society, the Church of England has been going through a journey on this over recent years. Sadly LGBTI+ people know that they don’t always receive a welcome everywhere and it is important for us to be clear that they will do so here.
“I look forward to welcoming Jayne Ozanne and hearing her tell her story. Personal story is so often how we connect at a deeper level with any issue. People are people and not labels.”
For further information visit the St John’s CIC website at stjohnscic.wordpress.com/or its facebook page www.facebook.com/EventsAtStJohns.