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  • Shane St Reynolds

Safe Church for Rainbow Families

We aim to encourage all Church communities to be safe and welcoming for rainbow families. However, we know that that has often not been the case. In acknowledging the hurt that the Church has traditionally engendered in the LGBTIQ Community, care and attention needs to be given to addressing the fears that a family coming into the Church may bring with them. A noticeably affirming welcome will bring grace, hope and challenge for broadening the faith and understanding of all the congregation. In the Journey of Grace, Rainbow families need to be actively welcomed by:

Welcoming and Affirming Language that addresses changes such as inclusive stories extending male/female imagery to gender diverse words and images. For example in the story of Noah each of the animals on the ark don’t need a gender identification, just “two by two,” so as to avoid defaulting to gender identification. Use of names, and phrases such as ‘two people,’ are great because they are not gender specific. Also books used during worship or education sessions can include images of diverse families. Attention needs to be given to documents, such as Sunday School forms, permission for excursions etc. to say parents and carers, not just mums and dads.


Liturgy in church can be inclusive by using gender diverse identification of God, and church events such as baptisms can use inclusive terms for parents and Godparents so gender diverse families and their friends are welcomed and affirmed by the inclusive language being used. This needs to be applied to the message, the choice of liturgical forms, i.e. communion, and choice of wording in the music.


Leadership in a safe church can visibly present diverse family models by inviting gender diverse people to be up the front and visible where possible. Consideration of the images on the pictures and advertising around the church space can also be actively affirming and inclusive.


In creating a safe space Open and Affirming Church, there will be curiosity. This means responding positively to people’s questions while encouraging people to pause before asking intrusive questions of gender diverse congregational members. Not every conversation needs to be about gender diversity! Some folk are not self-aware of how inappropriate their comments, questions and behaviours can be.


Presumed values and expectations vary between all families at church. Therefore, it cannot be presumed that every same sex or gender diverse relationship and/or family holds to the same set of religious and moral values. The church that affirms and welcomes the LGBTIQ community adds to its rich resourcefulness within the Church, offering a loving, caring, supportive and healing spiritual home for those who have been challenged or hurt elsewhere.