Different hands together

LGBTI+ Chaplaincy Service

The LGBTI+ Chaplaincy Service in the Diocese of Oxford offers listening and support, and prayerful affirmation for LGBTI+ people, their families and friends. The service aims to provide a safe space and dignity for every person at a time when these cannot be taken for granted.

We recently set clear expectations of inclusion and respect towards LGBTI+ people, their families and friends. Since then, we have continued to receive many requests for guidance and support. Our new chaplaincy begins its work in the hope and expectation that LGBTI+ people, and those close to them, are no longer left feeling on the margins of the Church.

The LGBTI+ Chaplaincy Service is part of a diocesan-wide commitment to foster an attitude of inclusion and respect across the diversity of sexual and gender identities in our church and in the world.

Safe and confidential

We want you to feel safe reading this page and to know that any contact with the LGBTI+ Chaplaincy Service is secure and confidential. The contact form (see right-hand menu) explains more, and the red escape button will close this browser window quickly. The button doesn’t suggest guilt, it’s simply there for you should you need it.

Safe and confidential

We want you to feel safe reading this page and to know that any contact with the LGBTI+ Chaplaincy Service is secure and confidential. The contact form (scroll down to see the menu if you’re using this on a mobile phone) explains more, and the red escape button will close this browser window quickly. The button doesn’t suggest guilt, it’s simply there for you should you need it.

About the chaplaincy service

Our new LGBTI+ Chaplaincy Service is designed to create a safe space for people over 18 years old (and their families and friends) where they can be confident that their lived experience is listened to with compassion and respect, and that there is appropriate pastoral and spiritual care available.

The chaplaincy is there for any person with questions, concerns, or pastoral needs relating to issues of gender or sexuality, at a time when these cannot be taken for granted. The service also aims to learn from the insights of LGBTI+ people about being church together. It is an initiative of the Bishop’s staff of the Diocese, who are committed to this service providing the highest standard of pastoral care across the whole church and in the best traditions of the ministry of chaplaincy.

Why are we needed?

The LGBTI+ Chaplaincy Service is needed because LGBTI+ people within the Diocese have requested it. Right now, some LGBTI+ people (and others with questions, concerns or pastoral needs relating to issues of gender or sexuality) can find it difficult to find safe places in which they can open the conversations they need to have.

The Church is seeking to understand diversity and trying to discern how to respond pastorally and theologically to the questions raised by realities such as same-sex marriage, gender variance or intersex conditions. The Church of England web page ‘Living in Love and Faith‘ (LLF) explains more. However, until LLF is published, and quite possibly after that, there remain particular pastoral and spiritual needs arising from problematic encounters that LGBTI+ people often experience within the institutional Church.

Currently, although congregations of all theological persuasions may seek to respond in a faithfully Christian way to LGBTI+ people, there is no consistency in what this actually means. This results in LGBTI+ people sometimes not knowing how they will be greeted if they go to worship at their local church, or even if they will be permitted to serve. Tragically, there are often stories of traumatic rejection by faith communities and experiences of exclusion, isolation, bullying and harassment. This is unacceptable.

Who is the service for?

The chaplaincy service is available to LGBTI+ people living in the Diocese of Oxford, their families and friends, clergy and pastoral leaders and anyone who has pastoral needs, concerns or questions relating to LGBTI+ people. Visit the FAQs page to find out more.

What you can expect from a chaplain

  • they will be affirming and accepting of you
  • they will listen to you with attentiveness and respect
  • they will seek to understand you and your life, hopefully enabling you to gain new insights
  • they will wish the best for you – especially in your spiritual life/walk with God
  • they will be with you in your pain, anxiety, and in your joy
  • they will be working within the House of Bishops guidelines on human sexuality.
  • they will not ‘tell you what to do’, or what choices to make
  • they will not question your integrity or your self-understanding, or your identity
  • they will not judge you, but will seek only to understand you
  • they will not seek to change you
  • they will not breach your confidentiality unless they think that your life, or that of another, is in danger.

‘God of Diversity’ – a prayer

God who delights in us,
You search us and find us out.
You love us from the inside.
Every thought and feeling, uttered and
held in silence
Is known to you and precious to you.
Dwell within us.
Help us discover that you mean us to
grow into who we are
And no other.
To be real, not to pretend,
To know love – given and received,
And to blossom in its liberating power.
Shelter us in your protective shadow
From those who will not accept us,
Who know us only from the outside.
Give us the peace that passes
All misunderstanding, fear and rejection
Knowing that you alone behold us,
desire us, and declare us to be your own.
Amen

Words: Alison Webster
Available to print out as a postcard