2009 was definitely the best year so far for OuterSpace’s activities. As well as usual seminars and worship sessions, we set up a big purple marquee in the main campsite and use it for morning and evening prayers every day. There was something incredibly valuable in starting and ending each day together as a group of LGBT Christians, and we’ll hopefully be bringing the big tent back again in future years so we can have that special space away from the hurly-burly of the main festival area.
This year the two OuterSpace sessions were led by Jeff Heskins, the Director of Ordinands in the Lincoln diocese. One session focused on blessings on partnerships between LGBT people, where Jeff talked from his own experience in London. The other session looked at the difficult issue of LGBT people entering ministry. Both sessions included a lively time of questions and answers and also input from a range of panelists. Jeff has written a couple of books on these subjects, which are available from Amazon here and here.
At 11pm on the Sunday night OuterSpace put on a time of worship called ‘Waiting in the Long Night’. This featured readings, reflections and stories of people coming to grips with everything it means to be an LGBT Christian today – grateful for how far we have come, but looking forward to the good things that the future holds. You can download the service sheet and reflection from Sunday night’s ‘Waiting in the Long Night’ worship event by clicking on the links below.
Finally, one of the most valuable things OuterSpace did at Greenbelt was to staff a stall in the G-Source tent throughout the festival. This was OuterSpace’s visible face, where people who would never feel able to come to our sessions could come and ask questions and take material away. It underlined the importance of LGBT people being visible at places like Greenbelt.
And next year we hope to be even more visible…
Four Fold Franciscan Blessing
At the end of Bishop Gene Robinson’s last Greenbelt session he used the following words to bless the assembled congregation. They very much echo the heart of OuterSpace and they are reproduced here by permission:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. Amen.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. Amen.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.