THIS WEEK, My Faithful Ally, the podcast that shares the stories and testimonies from queer people of faith, features my story.
The last in the third series, the episode is described as:
From a calling to provide for others, Kieran’s journey has led him to working for the Open Table Network where God continues to provide not only for him, but for those that the network supports.
Host Barney Miles, who began this podcast in 2020 as a lockdown project, always begins his interviews with a big question:
How do you identify and where are you at with your faith?
I replied that I now identify as a gay man, though I have not always been comfortable with that, and ‘broadly Christian’:
I don’t particularly wear any other label in terms of which Christian tradition, you know. I was brought up in a Catholic family, but ever since I was at university, I’ve been interested in working together with other Christians from across different traditions and that stayed with me throughout my adult life… I think God is much less interested in the labels that we give ourselves.
From my early days in Catholic education, through working with other Christians at university, to experiencing prejudice from a church school governor as a primary school teacher, and becoming a trainee for Catholic priesthood, I shared the formative experiences which led me to support LGBT+ Christians as Coordinator of the Open Table Network.
I spent three years training to be a Catholic priest but did not complete the training (it typically takes six years) because:
I’d realised that had an unhealthy image of God and I had an unhealthy image of myself and they weren’t good foundations to build a lifelong Christian vocation on.
After I left, I began to ‘come out’ as gay to friends and family, and make a life for myself as an openly gay man for the first time. This took me away from church for several years, but I returned thanks to the support of several LGBT+ Christian ministries, some of which I ended up helping to run.
I met Warren, now my husband, in 2007, and together we were part of the first Open Table community in Liverpool which began in 2008. When it began to develop as a network of communities in 2015, I took on the role of Coordinator to support the growth of this ministry from one to many communities.
I spoke about how the Catholic Church’s statements about the Government consultation on same-sex marriage in 2011 led me finally to leave the Catholic Church and worship together with Warren at the Anglican church where Open Table began.
I also explain the origin of the Open Table prayer I wrote to reflect the extraordinary growth of this movement from six people who started the first community, to the growing number of communities across England and Wales today.
I explained how he believes the growth of the Open Table Network is ‘infinitely more than I could ask or imagine’, and has become hismy vocation:
If I just tried to do it under my own strength, I wouldn’t have got very far. You know, my own kingdom would look much smaller and less generous, and more comfortable, and with much more staying at home with a nice cup of tea… It does motivate and inspire me as much as it does challenge me. It is an exercise in trust and had begun to see evidence of that.
LISTEN HERE to the interview [31.5mins].
The My Faithful Ally podcast series has also included stories from other supporters of the Open Table Network – Click on the links below to hear them:
- Sarah, OTN Co-Chair
- Mel, PhD researcher using Open Table communities as a case study
- Augustine, OTN Trustee
- Sara, a member of our Open Table Guildford community