Italian LGBT Christian group ‘REFO’ invites all to prayer during the International Day Against Homophobia
On April 16, 2013, REFO Evangelical Network for Faith & Homosexuality sent the following letter to Protestant churches all over Italy. Translated by Peter Luntz
Dear Sisters and Brothers, We are writing on the occasion of the upcoming International Day Against Homophobia to be held on May 17, 2013. It was on May 17, 1990 that the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.
A few years later, the international lesbian and gay community chose May 17 to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia (that is, against fear and hatred of homosexual and transsexual people).
It is to mark this occasion that the women and men of REFO, Evangelical Network for Faith & Homosexuality, would like to invite all Baptist, Methodist, Waldensian and Lutheran churches in Italy to join us (and many other LGBTIQ Christian groups across Italy) in prayer against the discrimination, exclusion and physical and verbal violence committed against gay and transsexual people. This is also prayer in the hope that such problems will soon be overcome both in church and in society.
Starting from a historical and critical reading of the Bible, our churches continue along the courageous path to overcome the centuries-old connection between being homosexual and a state of sin to fully recognize and value the wholeness and dignity of homosexual people. During a Synod Assembly in 2007, our churches approved a motion that confessed the sin of homophobia and invited local communities to open up to and respect homosexual persons. In 2010, the Synod of the Waldensian Church approved blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.
These steps are important achievements for Protestant lesbians and gay men. They also serve as an impetus to continue along this challenging path to which we are called. We would like to invite all of you to walk this path with us.
We are therefore joining the call of the Waldensian Executive Board, known as the Tavola Valdese, as reported in their March 2013 letter, asking the churches to “include the International Day Against Homophobia in their calendar of activities and celebrations” by organizing specific moments of prayer or, more preferably, moments within Sunday worship services (in order to involve the entire community).
As an aid in preparing moments of prayer, you will find a worship proposal attached. It is introduced by 1 John 4:18, the Bible verse chosen by the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups for this year’s prayer and reflection. The attachment contains Bible verses, prayers and some concrete samples of discrimination and hope.
To quote the Waldensian Tavola again, we are certain that May 17 celebrations can be “an excellent opportunity to keep our communities’ focus on issues of LGBT discrimination alive, as well as promote bringing people together.” The theme of fighting discrimination can be the first step toward dialog and fraternal exchange between community members on the topic of Christian faith and homosexual and transsexual individuals.
Indeed, we believe that the Gospels are a call to life and freedom for each woman and each man as they were created by God. The answer to this call transforms our churches into open and welcoming places for all people, places of community where all people can live out their own vocation, their own path, their affections and relationships because, as this year’s Bible verse tells us, “There is no fear in love.”
Please feel free to contact REFO through our details below, should you have any questions, need help with the liturgy proposals or want direct assistance in preparing a worship service. Please also let us know how, when and where you plan to organize your moments of prayer so that we can provide this information on our website and on other sites linked to us.
We are please to be united together in the Holy Spirit and through prayer during this upcoming International Day Against Homophobia and remain yours in the Risen Christ.
Signed by REFO – Evangelical Network for Faith & Homosexuality (Italy)
Website: refoitalia.wordpress.com – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To download the liturgy (in Italian), click here.