An event in the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby this evening co-hosted by Derbyshire Friend and Forum of Faiths for Derby. It's entitled "Diversity, Difference & Sexuality". We're welcomed by Stephen Greasley (Chair of Forum of Faiths for Derby and minister of Peartree Baptist Church) and Melvin Harris (Trustee, Derbyshire Friend). There are a dozen of us here this evening. We split into two groups (the one I'm in is chaired by Stephen, the other by Melvin) and consider these questions:
"Over issues of sexuality there are often very marked differences of opinion within faith communities and the the LGBT communities. There are also differences between the faith communities and the LGBT communities over issues of sexuality. How can we hold differing viewpoints and uphold mutual respect for those differing views at the same time?"I told Stephen about the current year's Faith to Faith programme of public meetings at the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow, much of which focuses on faith communities and LGBT issues. He asks me to come forward and say a bit about this to help inform our discussion.
"How do we dispel myths and stereotypes, and spread understanding and education within and between faith communities and the LGBT community?"
"What core values might we all be able to agree upon, that come from our different communities? What would a just and fair society look like?"
The Multi-Faith Centre has, for the past five years, been working on a Europe-wide project in training and education on faith issues in relation to other topics. Currently they're developing material on "Religion, Gender and Sexuality" - and would like to pilot this with the kind of people who are here tonight.
This is the first event I've attended at the Multi-Faith Centre, although I've been here once before just for a look-around. We're in a lovely tall, airy room and the door is open onto a grassy slope; we can hear kids playing football outside ("Jumpers for goalposts" and all that!)
My iPhone ran out of charge hours ago. I've become over-reliant on it and I haven't bothered to check the train timetables since I couldn't do it on my National Rails app. I ask for a lift to the railway station, without having any idea what times the trains will run. I arrive too late to catch a direct train to Leicester - a trip that can take only 22 minutes on a good day. but tonight I have to travel via Nottingham, with an hour-long wait there, so I don't get home till the stroke of midnight.
I found this a very interesting meeting, not only from the perspective of Leicester Council of Faiths, but also from that of the Regional Equality and Divesity Partnership (REDP). Something like this, which crosses the streams (if you don't mind the Ghostbusters allusion) is right up REDP's street.