A recent BBC documentary has described how the local church of St James and Emmanuel in Didsbury, UK strove to become more inclusive of the LGBT+ community following the death of Lizzie Lowe, a teenager who died by suicide when she feared she would not be accepted for being gay.
Rector of Lizzie’s local church, Nick Bundock, said the new policy would welcome everyone regardless of their sexuality, race or gender. At first, Bundock was worried about addressing LGBT+ issues: “I felt, wrongly, it was better not to stir up a hornet’s nest about sexuality. If we don’t talk about it, people can have their progressive or traditional views and that’s fine and we won’t do anything to upset the apple cart, we won’t talk about it.
“I used to be someone who held a traditional view. I understand what we’re doing is in one sense a departure from what we’ve been doing previously…but you’ve got to remember we lost a 14-year-old girl to suicide. It doesn’t get more serious than that and that puts everything into perspective.”
Even though the move angered some parishioners, with a minority of the congregation leaving in protest, and some of the church leaders being sent threatening messages saying they would “go to hell”, the church has persisted, even going so far as to hold a Gay Pride event on its grounds.
Lizzie passed away when the fears her church would not accept her sexuality became too great. Her father Kevin said during the documentary: “I can’t imagine the pain and anguish that Lizzie was going through. And it pains us to know she was going through that alone. Lizzie’s sexuality wouldn’t have changed anything about the way we feel about Liz.”
He continued: “We need to have these discussions to bring these things out in the open and talk about it freely and openly. It’s about accepting people for who they are, not who we want them to be.”
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