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June 2018: Annual Conference special
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Dear members, friends, and supporters,


Welcome to our second newsletter of 2018 (click here to read previous editions). We're taking this opportunity to look back with a special focus on this year's Annual Conference held in Albano Laziale, in Rome, Italy, from 9-13 May. Our huge thanks to Italian member group Cammini di Speranza who did a fantastic job of organising it all - even though its organising committee members live in different parts of the country!

As always, you can like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more regular updates.

Blessings, and in solidarity,
The EuroForum team
In this edition...
  • Annual Conference catch up
  • Upcoming events 
  • News corner 

Our new banner on display at our Annual Conference during the rainbow service which took place on 12 May.

Member group spotlight: Gay-Christians Slovakia (Homosexuálni kresťania)
A huge welcome to our newest LGBT Christian group, who officially gained member group status during our Annual General Meeting (AGM) at this year's Annual Conference. We look forward very much to expanding our presence in Eastern Europe with the addition of Gay-Christians Slovakia - Homosexuálni kresťania to the European Forum family! 

Visit their website here or like them on Facebook to find out more about them. (Photo: two representatives of Gay-Christians Slovakia, far-right and second-left, taken in Rome.)

Annual Conference takes place in Albano Laziale, Rome
The European Forum's 37th Annual Conference in the tranquil surroundings of Albano Laziale, south-east Rome, was a huge success - with around 150 participants from dozens of countries. Thank you so much to everyone who came. And if you couldn't be there, read on to see what we got up to!

Opening speech: "towards welcoming and affirming communities"
"We have experienced or still experience the social, mental or even spiritual state of isolation that can be the result of discrimination and exclusion. But we have also proven to be a very resourceful group of people that have found ways around and right through hardship and oppression." European Forum Co-President, Wielie Elhorst, delivered this moving and affirming speech to kick off the Conference.

Strong youth presence at Annual Conference
One of the most informative moments of the Annual Conference was during the public event which took place on the Saturday, in which young LGBT+ Catholics told stories of their positive experiences with pastoral care in the Church. Watch the full video of the event (Italian / English) and read the full press release here (English).
European Forum Board members re-elected for another term
During the AGM, we're happy to report that Board members Elaine Sommers (Co-President), Quentin Dezetter (Communications Coordinator), and Matijs Mihelmanis (Treasurer) were reelected. This means they will each serve another two-year term, until 2020. Congratulations!
Short video message from two participants
Watch this video of Hilde and Jayne, two of our Annual Conference participants, who had a special message for the Pope...
Women's pre-conference launches Herstory project
During the women's pre-conference, initial plans were laid out for a Herstory project within the Forum (as well as other archive projects), led by two of our enthusiastic members. We will soon be  releasing further details and seeking contributions from our other members - so watch this space for updates!

AGAPE scholarship recipients 
We were thrilled to welcome our Agape Fund recipients to our Annual Conference, partly supported by a very generous donation from a German congregation. Participants came from Hungary, Poland, Russia, and other countries and are all working in the area of LGBT+ equality in their respective churches.

Our Co-President in the Italian press
Our Co-President, Wielie Elhorst, has been featured in the Italian media, talking about the Annual Conference. Read the article here (in Italian).

LGBT+ people: the "wounded healers" of the Church
Through our experiences, LGBT+ people can become the Samaritans of today. This was the central message of a powerful sermon delivered by the wonderful Susanne Andrea Birke during our rainbow service held in the city of Rome on Saturday 12 May. Read it on our blog here.

Personal message for Conference attendees from Fr James Martin
The ever-supportive Fr James Martin was present in video form at the Conference as he delivered a special message for young LGBT+ people in particular ahead of our youth event on Saturday 12 May. Watch the full video here (English with Italian subtitles).

Former President of European Forum gives valuable gift for archive 

During a wonderful moment at our AGM, Paul Whiting, one of the very first Presidents of the European Forum, provided the Forum with documents from the very beginning of the organisation (1982-1984), including the minutes of the very first AGMs we had. There wasn't much known about this time before, and now, thanks to Paul, we have it again. This represents a very important step in our hopes for future archiving projects.

 
Next Annual Conferences: London and Budapest!
During the closing ceremony, we heard from the organising committees from the UK and Hungary, who will be hosting the next Annual Conferences in 2019 and 2020 respectively. We wish them luck and can't wait to meet again in the coming years.
Upcoming events
  • LGBT Catholics Westminster group at London Pride March | 7 July 2018 in London, UK (Register here)
  • "Building a Bridge" reflection evenings with LGBT Catholics Westminster | various dates throughout 2018 and 2019, London, UK (more information)
  • ILGA-Europe Annual Conference | 24-28 October, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium (more information)

News corner 
  • Read 📖 The Pew Research Center's new report on being Christian in Western Europe. We were really encouraged to read that the vast majority of non-practising Christians favour legal abortion and same-sex marriage. As the report notes, Church-attending Christians are more conservative on these issues. Yet even among churchgoing Christians, "there is substantial support – and in several countries, majority support – for legal abortion and same-sex marriage."
  • Dance 💃 to "You Can't Pray the Gay Away" by Laura Bell Bundy!
  • Listen 🎧 to our multi-religion panel discussion, "What is the role of faith leaders in combating LGBT+ discrimination?", held last year on 17 May to commemorate IDAHOBIT  (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia) in Brussels.
  • Explore 🔎 ILGA-Europe's new rainbow map of Europe. Find out where your country stands when it comes to legal protections and rights of LGBT+ people.
  • Watch 🎥 this video from Human Rights Campaign on the horrendous practice of so-called "conversion therapy" and its effects.
Is there something else you'd like to see in our newsletter? Let us know!
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