November 2017: Agape Fund: call for contributions; we go to the ILGA-Europe Annual Conference; meet our new Fundraiser; Annual Conference information; latest equality updates in Europe
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Dear members, friends, and supporters,

Welcome to our third newsletter of 2017 (if you missed the April and July editions, click here to read them). The last few months have been very busy for the European Forum, and we've got lots of exciting developments to share.

Our next newsletter will go out in 2018, so we wish you a peaceful Christmas period and a happy New Year! In case you haven't already, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more regular updates.

Blessings, and in solidarity,
The EuroForum team
In this edition...
  • Request for donations: Agape Fund
  • ILGA-Europe Annual Conference: our reflections 
  • 2019 Annual Conference announcement
  • European Forum book  available in Catalan
  • Welcome to our new Fundraiser
  • European equality news
  • Upcoming events 
  • What we're reading this month
Agape Fund: a letter from our Treasurer 

2017 Annual Conference participants in Gdansk, Poland

Dear friends,


During the Conference in Gdansk I had a small chat with a first-timer. I asked what their impression and their feeling was. The person replied to me that it was fantastic and for the first time in their life they could feel free and be surrounded by people who understand and accept them as they are. That very person was brought to the Conference thanks to the existence of the Agape Fund.


This very existence is possible because of your donations, dear friends. Your donations make difference and grant moments of happiness to those who otherwise would not have been given such opportunity.


This year, 7271€ was spent from the Agape Fund to enable 11 individuals from various countries in Europe, stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to Vladivostok, to participate in the European Forum Annual Conference. Unfortunately, many of the applicants live in those areas of our continent and beyond, where the flight connections are quite expensive and often they also need to obtain an EU Visa for a fee. That is why the average cost of an Agape participant is rather high. This has resulted in the current Agape Fund balance dropping to just 162€. Additionally, it is important to understand that, although the European Forum has successfully raised funds from various donors and has been continuing to do the same, the money obtained via these means is being used primarily for the various projects and working group activities. As a rule, it does not cover the costs of participation in the European Forum Annual Conference for people from economically disadvantaged countries.


In light of this,  I am sending repeatedly to you, dear friends, my sincere appeal for your generous donations to the Agape Fund.


The European Forum Bank details:

Triodos Bank

IBAN: NL68 TRIO 0338 5192 11


Thank you very much.

Best regards,

Matijs Mihelmanis


European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups

European Forum Board and staff meet near Rome
Board and staff members of the European Forum met in October at the beautiful site of next year's Annual Conference in Albano Laziale, near Rome, Italy. They were hosted by wonderful members of the Italian organising committee, who are hard at work preparing for 2018's Annual Conference which will take place 9-13 May! Watch this space - registration will soon open.

European Forum welcomes new Fundraiser 
We're very happy to welcome Damir Kurtagic, our new Fundraiser! Damir has the important tasks of applying for grants, making funding proposals, and advising on overall fundraising strategy. He's already making invaluable contributions to the organisation. The European Forum is expanding its staff and there may be more opportunities in the future. Keep an eye on our social media channels, where future opportunities to work with us will be advertised.
European Forum representatives attend European Lesbian Conference
Former Secretary Irene Schwyn and current Board member for Eastern Europe, Tatijana Lekhatkova attended the European Lesbian* Conference in Vienna from 6-8 October, along with hundreds of others. It took place at the Palais Epstein, with opening addresses by Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Ewa Dziedzc, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Faika El-Nagashi and Camila Garfias. The European Forum was very happy to be able to send delegates to represent the Christian lesbian voice in this important event.

List of welcoming churches in the UK
OneBodyOneFaith (formerly LGCM) has compiled this useful resource for UK-based LGBT+ people seeking a safe place to worship. View their full list of welcoming churches hereThe European Forum is currently working on creating its own list for the continent - watch this space.
Free download: Materials of the Training on Religious Trauma and Internalised LGBTphobia
The European Forum has made available the presentations and handouts of the Training on Religious Trauma and Internalised LGBTphobia, Vilnius, available in English and Russian. Visit our website to download them now
Happy 7th birthday to our member group Wiara i Tecza!
Wiara i Tecza (Faith and Rainbow), from Poland, recently celebrated their 7th birthday. They hosted us in Gdansk this year for our fantastic Annual Conference. Here's to many more years of excellent work!

In significant move, gay couples 'must be welcomed' to World Congress of Families in 2018

Gay couples must be made welcome at next year's World Meeting of Families in Ireland, the Catholic Bishop of Limerick has said. The European Forum's Catholic working group is now working towards ensuring they have a strong, visible presence at the Congress.

Big win for intersex people in Germany

An intersex person in Germany has won the right to register a 'third gender', representing big progress for intersex people. Read more.

European Forum attends ILGA-Europe annual conference
Three Board members and two staff members of the European Forum recently attended the annual conference of ILGA-Europe in Warsaw, Poland (1-5 November, 2017). We were very happy and proud to be there with 570 other LGBTI activists from around Europe! Read more of our reflections in our extended report, available on our website.
UK LGBT Christians to host Brexit-year Annual Conference 2019
We're delighted to announce that our Annual Conference in 2019 will be hosted by our UK-based member groups in London. It sends out a strong message that our solidarity extends well beyond the borders of the EU, and reaffirms our commitment to equality and human rights for all LGBT+ people, regardless of the political situation. Read more here.
European Forum book presentation in Barcelona 
On 25 October 2017, a Catalan version of the book And God Saw It All Was Very Good: Catholic LGBT People Telling Their Stories (2015) was presented in Barcelona. In the Claretians Bookshop in the city centre, about 50 people attended the presentation and heard readings of passages from the book. Enric Vilà, coordinator of the Catholic Working Group of the European Forum, presented the organisation, its tasks, and the genesis of  the book. Ramon Mª Nogués, the renowned anthropologist priest, valued it as a very useful tool and a brave testimony of faith and LGBT reality. The president of Associació Cristiana of LGBT of Catalonia (ACGIL), Irma Llopart, closed the event by thanking all the volunteers who made it possible, and especially Jeroni Sureda, the translator. 
Announcing a new run on the Mentoring Programme

The Board of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups is happy to announce the second round of the Mentoring Programme running from February 2018 to May 2019. The Mentoring Programme plays a key role in strengthening European LGBT Christian activists or group leaders through regular contacts and exchange of experience. If you're interested in becoming a mentor or a mentee, learn more about how to apply here.

Queering Brexit: new report 

A new report from the organisation UK in a Changing Europe looks at the impact of Brexit on LGBT+ communities in the EU and UK. “The EU has often been viewed as ‘the’ sexual minorities’ champion. Whether or not this is entirely true, it has certainly been instrumental in pushing ahead the LGBTIQ+ agenda in EU member states, including the United Kingdom,” reads the report.

Fundraising and gender equality: take the survey!

During the last conference of ILGA Europe 1-4 November 2017 in Warsaw, Poland, we were invited to fill in a fundraising survey. The results are used to build the case for money and better spent funding for the LGBTI-movement. They want to hear from you! Please fill in the survey no later than 15 December.

Upcoming events
  • Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) Second Assembly: Hear a Just Cause | 30 November-3 December 2017 in Munich-Dachau, Germany (website)
  • European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups Annual Conference | 9-13 May, 2018 in Albano Laziale, Italy

Reading list
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