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The delight in difference

For Pride month, the Revd Dr Chris Dingwall-Jones, one of the diocese's newest LGBTQIA+ Chaplains, spoke to BBC Radio Oxford about his role, his own call to ministry and what he is most looking forward to at Pride this year. 

Listen online or read below.


The Revd Dr Chris Dingwall-JonesWhat is an LGBTQIA+ Chaplain? 

The most important thing is just being someone who can be a resource and a listening ear for anybody, either in the LGBT community or people within the diocese who just want someone to speak to and explore things.

This is an area where there can be a lot of controversy, and actually the most important thing is the people at the centre of it. The chaplaincy service was set up because the diocese sensed that often LGBT people find themselves ‘talked about’ by the church, and the chaplaincy is really an opportunity for people to be listened to. 

What does your work entail on a day-to-day basis? 

So, it might be that there is somebody who wants to talk about their own experience of being an LGBT person in the church, whether that’s difficulties they've faced or concerns they might have.

LGBT people can find talking about faith difficult within the LGBT community, and people who are LGBT can obviously find it very, very difficult sometimes in the church. So this is a service that bridges that gap so people can bring their whole selves and think about everything that is concerning them, rather than this sense of being siloed off into little boxes. 

When did you get your own calling?  

That's an interesting question. I was working as a lecturer in drama, and I was looking at what was going to happen after my PhD, after my short-term contract finished. I'd been doing a lot of community work and I felt really called that work with people was important to me and that ‘just lecturing’ wasn't going to allow me to do that.

I didn't know that that was going to be with the church until I heard the words come out of my mouth, “Oh perhaps I'm called to be a priest”, and the person I was with looked at me and said, “yeah, of course you are”. And that kind of started this whole process. 

Are you looking forward to Pride? 

Absolutely. I was there last year with some clergy friends and someone came up to us and said, “Oh, come on, you're not real priests, are you?” And it was very, very difficult to convince them that actually the three of us were real ordained priests today in the Church of England. They were like, “No! No, you can't possibly be”.

So, I love the opportunity to be present at Pride and also just to enjoy the atmosphere and the stalls and where Pride prayers happens in the University Church. It’s just a wonderful time. I hope the weather is as good as last year. And I’ll remember to put suncream on this year!

Do you find you have interesting conversations at Pride? 

Yeah, absolutely. There is this sense that the church and the LGBTQ community are these big hermetically sealed, different spaces and actually that's not true at all. There's lots of overlap, and I think just opening up those conversations lets people explore their own faith and their own experience of being part of the LGBT community and recognising that that is something that can be integrated and that the church isn't a space where LGBT people can't be. 

What does a Pride celebration mean to you? 

I think it's a recognition of the diversity of humanity, the diversity of creation, the fact that actually we do live in a world where people are different and that difference is something that God delights in.

There is a genuine sense of recognising that we're not all the same, we don't have to be all the same, and actually God wants to know us as we are, not as we are expected to be. I think Pride is really important for giving that space for people to be the people that they are. 


Listen to Chris’ interview on BBC Radio Oxford on our Soundcloud channel.

If you would like to find out more about the chaplaincy, take a look at our website, and to contact a chaplain, read their bios and fill in the confidential contact form.

Page last updated: Tuesday 11th June 2024 10:59 AM
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