St Chrysostom’s has been a welcoming and inclusive churches for many years. We have people from many nations, different ages and outlooks, different ethnicities and sexualities.
Each month, at 5pm on the first Saturday of the month, St Chrysostoms hosts a Eucharist for LGBT people, their friends and families. The Mass is in the parish’s worship schedule and is organised by St Chrysostom’s and supported by the Bishop of Manchester. It is the only one of its kind in Manchester Diocese – indeed we are not aware of a similar Mass in another diocese in England. (Perhaps it could be seen as a kind of Fresh Expression).
The service is a simple, straightforward Anglican Eucharist celebrated by a variety of priests of differing traditions within the church – and yes that includes evangelicals! The Eucharist is followed by light refreshments for those who wish to stay.
A few months after the mass had been initiated Father Ian received a request to take a funeral. The undertaker told him that the person attended St Chrysostom’s. However, the name was not a familiar one. After some enquiry it turned out that the man who had died had started attending the LGBT Eucharist. He had been brought up in the Church of England but had felt alienated from church as he became more open about being gay. He had seen the monthly service advertised, and not having been to church for many years he returned to church through this service. He was a quiet man who had attended several times, leaving without speaking to anyone. He let it be known to his family that should he die he wished his funeral to be at St Chrysostom’s.
One man in his late thirties also saw the service advertised. He too had not been to church for many years. He attended and told how years earlier he had felt a calling to priesthood, but felt he could not pursue it because he was gay. He did not believe the church would allow a gay priest. Having met a helpful priest at this service he is now meeting a vocations adviser in his own diocese with a view to exploring ordination in the Church of England.
These moving stories surely give enough evidence that such a service is welcome, and necessary.