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July 2017: introducing our new logo; Annual Conference recap; latest equality updates in Europe; work with us!
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Dear members, friends, and supporters,

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

We had a very successful Annual Conference, have attended some fantastic events across Europe for Pride Month, and are proud to be hosting an event on combating internalised religious LGBTphobia for activists across Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe in August. Read on for more information about all of our updates!

Thank you for reading our newsletter. 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...
  • Introducing our new logo
  • Job announcement: part-time fundraiser
  • Video of Gdansk Equality March
  • Welcome to our new member groups
  • Welcome to our new secretary
  • European equality news
  • EuroForum's Annual Conference - recap
  • Upcoming events 
  • Member group spotlight
  • What we're reading this month
Introducing our fantastic new logo
We're thrilled to unveil our new logo, which has been three years in the making. Thank you to all our members who gave feedback throughout the process. “This logo eloquently expresses four dynamics central to the European Forum,” says Quentin Dezetter, the European Forum’s communications coordinator. Read the full press release here.
European Forum welcomes two new member groups!
After the Annual General Meeting (AGM) at this year's Annual Conference, we are pleased to welcome our newest member groups, Mozaik Közösség from Hungary, and The Sibyls from the UK. We're especially happy to have greater representation in Eastern Europe and to welcome The Sibyls as our first trans-only group! Scroll down to read more about them.
Welcome to our new Secretary 
We are delighted to welcome our new Secretary Ineke Lautenbach, who was elected during our annual conference in May. She comes from the Netherlands and belongs to the member group Netwerk Mirre
Former Secretary Irene Schywn gives two interviews 
We're proud of our fantastic former Secretary, Irene Schwyn, who was recently interviewed in Gdansk local press and for Evangelisch.de. Read the interviews here in Polish and German.
Global Network of Rainbow Catholics Second Assembly: scholarships available
Our friends at the GNRC are holding their Second Assembly in Munich, Germany, at the end of November. Apply by 15 August for a scholarship to attend! More information here.
Job announcement: Fundraiser 

The European Forum is looking for a resourceful individual to join our growing team and to help to create a stronger faith voice in favour of LGBT equality in Europe. The position is part-time and home-based. If you have fundraising experience and would like to know more, read the full description here and apply by 31 July. We can't wait to hear from you!

Podcast: what is the role of faith leaders in combating LGBT+ discrimination?
During our multi-faith event commemorating IDAHOBIT 2017 in May, the European Forum organised a panel discussion on the topic of combating discrimination against LGBT+ people in religious environments. You can listen to a recording of the event here.
Representatives of the European Forum at the Council of Europe
Co-President Wielie Elhorst and Programme Manager Misha Cherniak recently went to Strasbourg, France, to the Council of Europe - with which the European Forum has had participatory status since July 2016.
Marriage equality news in Germany, Malta, Scotland
Germany and Malta passed marriage equality laws within a few days of each other in July. Also, in June, the Scottish Episcopal Church became the first mainstream Christian denomination in the UK to allow same-sex couples to marry.
 
Gdansk Annual Conference: thoughts from KerMel member
Amy Kósa of KerMel recently wrote some beautiful words about her experience of our Annual Conference in Gdansk. "When we were singing in the closing song, 'We're all welcome,' it really meant that we were all welcomed," she writes. "I sincerely hope that once in Hungary such conditions will prevail." Read more here.
Annual Conference recap 
The European Forum's 36th Annual Conference in Gdansk, Poland, was a great success. Click here to read more about what we got up to, here to read the welcome speech of Co-President Wielie Elhorst, and here to watch a 3-minute video of attendees at the Gdansk Pride Equality March (Marsz Równości).
European Forum Board attends World Pride in Madrid
World Pride took place on 1 July and the Board of the European Forum was there in full glory to celebrate with our Spanish members! They also attended a lovely Rainbow Celebration hosted by the San Salvador Church. See more of our photos here.
Listen to the European Forum song in Spanish
During World Pride weekend in Madrid, Alberto Rodrigo performed a Spanish version of "Courage to Follow the Law of Love", the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups' unofficial hymn. It was sung during the Rainbow Celebration at the San Salvador Iglesias on Friday 30 June, 2017. Listen to the recording here.
Church of England takes positive steps towards affirming LGBT+ people
The General Synod (the governing body) of the Church of England recently voted by an overwhelming majority not simply to welcome but also to affirm transgender people. It follows its decision the previous day to "align itself with the professional bodies that consider gay conversion therapy to be harmful". Read more from Tina Beardsley in the Guardian and watch the full debate here.
Free celebration and performance in London
Friends of the Forum will attend a free Service of Celebration at 10:30 on 29 July at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. It will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which partially decriminalised "homosexual acts" between men in England and Wales. Click here for more information about attending!
Upcoming events
  • Training on Religious Trauma and Internalised LGBTphobia for Activists from Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe, 10-13 August 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania (learn more)
  • Conference of Eastern European and Central Asian Forum of LGBT Christians,14-17 September, 2017. Read about previous editions here.
  • ILGA-Europe conference, 1-5 November, 2017 in Warsaw, Poland
Member group spotlight:
The Sibyls

 
The Sibyls is the first trans group to become a member of the European Forum. It is a network of trans Christians in UK and currently has 95 members. It aims to support trans people and their walk of faith, and has members who are activists for trans inclusion in church communities.
You may already know three of our members - Shanon Ferguson, Tina Beardsley (one of the Forum's guest speakers at the Gdansk conference), and myself.


Tina Beardsley and Chris Newlands

Recently, Tina Beardsley was an adviser for a proposal to the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, which asked for the creation of a liturgy of welcoming for trans people who have transitioned. The result of the vote was in favour of the motion, indicating a new willingness of the Church to be more affirming of trans people.
It is my hope that the Sibyls will be able to play an active role in the work of the Forum, and that trans people from many other countries will want to become involved too. 
Let us welcome them all with open arms.

Elaine Sommers, Co-President of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups

You can watch Chris Newlands, who presented the motion affirming transgender people, and the whole debate here.

Visit the Sibyls' website
Reading list
  • "The church's trans epiphany will ease the way for others like me," writes Tina Beardsley in the Guardian.
  • As one of the first gay Muslim marriages took place in the UK this month, Amrou Al-Kadhi writes about why he will "always champion the intersection between queer identity and Islam", in spite of receiving vitriol and abuse.
  • “You can’t be sensitive to the LGBT community if you only issue documents about them, preach about them, or tweet about them, without knowing them,” writes Fr. James Martin, SJ in an article for Commonweal Magazine.
  • Human rights commissioner Nils Muižnieks expressed concern at the third consecutive ban on the annual Pride march in Istanbul. Read more.
  • "All Christians Should Support And Affirm LGBT+ Sexuality And Gender," writes Alicia Johnston for the Huffington Post.
  • This recent episode of BBC Radio 4's The Untold explores the family dynamics of a gay Sikh man as he approaches his wedding day. 
Does your member group have some news to share? Contact us at communications@euroforumlgbtchristians.eu

Is there something else you'd like to see in our newsletter? Let us know!
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