100 REVS - Australian Ministers Say Sorry to Gay Community

In an act of reconciliation that demonstrates times are changing, Australian Christian Ministers are signing a document which says sorry to the gay and lesbian community and at least 100 representatives are marching in this year’s Sydney Mardi Gras parade to show it’s not just words.

“This wonderful act reminds me of the time the NSW Police marched in the parade for the first time. It was a sign of progress when the same organisation that had imprisoned the first marchers in 1978, joined the parade as participants, 20 or so years later.” said Anthony Venn-Brown, author and former evangelist within the Assemblies of God. “These ministers are the closest example I can see, of the Jesus we read about the New Testament and that a more informed understanding of homosexuality is reaching all denominations” Venn-Brown added.

The group, calling itself 100 Revs, was launched last weekend by Pastor Mike Hercock at a gathering gay Pentecostals (Freedom 2 b[e]) and at Surry Hills Baptist Church. Ministers are adding their names to a formal apology, which states that churches have often been "profoundly unloving'' towards homosexuals. "As ministers of various churches and denominations we recognise that the churches we belong to, and the church in general, have not been places of welcome for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people, For these things we apologise. We are deeply sorry and ask the forgiveness of the GBLT community'', it said in the statement.

“I see this statement as a step towards a very important dialogue. Most within the gay community consider all Christians are anti-gay. How did they get that message?” Venn-Brown asks. “It could only have come from one place, but the 100 Revs have identified that showing genuine love and compassion is far more Christ-like than trying to win a theological debate. Those signing this statement, like the leadership of Surry Hills Baptist, have taken the time to listen to our stories of rejection, isolation, and sometimes even hatred. Our journeys to find personal reconciliation have often been lonely ones. We applaud their willingness to acknowledge the wrongs. It’s a way forward of healing for many”, Venn-Brown added.

Venn-Brown believes that those who sign the 100 Revs statement may become targets of anger, hostility, misunderstanding, judgement and even be ostracised for their willingness to admit the wrongs. Not unlike the experience of many gay and lesbian people, he added.

“Thank you for standing with us and welcome to our world” Venn-Brown concluded.

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Anthony Venn-Brown is the co-founder and former leader of Freedom2b, Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds. He is also an educator and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth. Anthony’s autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning', details his journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man. Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and  was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award. He is also the founder and director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International.

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