Next weekend I am privileged to be taking part in a panel discussion called ‘Queer Faith Voices’ as part of a tour by a visiting US priest and political strategist Liz Edman. She is the author of Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity (Beacon Press, 2016). This is a guest post by Jen Williams promoting the tour. Jen has previously contributed to this blog here and here.
The Rev’d Liz Edman, a ‘queer priest’ in the United States Episcopal Church, will visit Liverpool at the invitation of our Anglican Bishop for a three-day tour opening up a public conversation about queer and faith identity.
The tour invites all to come and hear the voices of today’s LGBTQ+ people of faith so that all might discover and unpack the unique insights that the queer community has to offer to its faith communities.
Liz Edman said:
‘This will be my first visit to Liverpool, and I can’t wait. This program started when Bishop Paul and I met over coffee and talked eagerly about how an appreciation for queerness can invigorate Christian life and teaching.
‘I absolutely love that he is now bringing together queer voices from within the church and from secular queer community to dialogue, to see what we can offer and learn from one another.
‘I’m looking forward to a series of lively, thought-provoking conversations in your remarkable city.’
Edman’s tour begins with a fringe event of Homotopia, Liverpool’s longest running queer arts festival – a panel discussion called ‘Queer Faith Voices’ on Saturday 23rd November 2019, 7:30pm at LEAF on Bold Street.
Edman will be joined by a diverse panel of local LGBTQ+ speakers:
- Char Binns, Interim Director of Homotopia and part of the core team at Liverpool Queer Collective;
- Kieran Bohan, Co-ordinator of Open Table, a network of ecumenical Christian worship communities which offer a warm welcome to people who are LGBTQIA+ and all who seek an inclusive Church;
- Christopher Greenough, Senior Lecturer in Theology and World Religion at Edge Hill University and author of Undoing Theology: Life Stories from Non-normative Christians and Queer Theologies: The Basics.
The panel will take turns to share their experiences as queer people of faith with the room, before the event opens to the audience for questions and further discussion. Tickets for ‘Queer Faith Voices’ are £5.98 and available at queerfaithvoices.eventbrite.co.uk. The ticket price includes a welcome drink and canapés; there is also a bar available for additional drinks.
Edman will then join the Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Revd Paul Bayes, on Sunday 24th November to lead an ecumenical service of Holy Communion at Open Table Wigan, part of the Open Table network. Offering a particular welcome to the LGBTQIA+ community, their friends and family and all who seek an inclusive church, the service will take place at St John’s Abram, with refreshments available from 6pm and the service beginning at 6:30pm.
Edman’s tour will conclude with her public theology lecture at St Bride’s Liverpool on Monday 25th November. Provocatively titled ‘Scandal of a Queer God’, the lecture will ask the question: ‘was Jesus perfect or was he human?’ and uses, in Edman’s words: ‘queerness as an interpretative lens’.
Exploring how the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman disrupts an overemphasis on Jesus’ divinity, Edman will discuss how:
‘dismantling the lie of the “perfect Jesus” can help Christians be more accountable for what we say we believe, and bring a healthier understanding of our faith to bear on the religious and political turmoils that now engulf our world.’
The lecture will begin at 6pm with refreshments available from 5:30pm.
Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes said:
‘Jesus lived a life that was open to learning. So in Matthew 15:21-28 we see him learning from the Canaanite woman – that is, from one who was thought to be an outsider, treated as voiceless.
‘All voices need to be heard. All people, all groups of people, are made by God and have a lesson to teach and a right to be heard. And if we are to love all of the world God loves, then we need to listen to all of the world – to everyone’s experience. It is through listening that we receive wisdom – and as followers of the listening Jesus we believe that wisdom so often comes from those on the edge, from those ignored, from those often despised.
‘Among those ignored and despised today by the churches are, so often, members of the LGBTIQ+ community. Christians may disagree about the way to holiness, but we must surely agree about the need to listen and to love those on the margins.
‘For these reasons I encourage you to come to Queer Faith Voices, to hear some fine speakers headed by the inspirational Liz Edman, whom I met in New York and who gave gifts of kindness and theological wisdom to this wandering Brit. She is the author of Queer Virtue, a book that challenges Christians to learn the lessons that the queer community has to teach. This will be a stimulating evening and whatever your perspective I commend it to you.’