On Sunday morning last, 12th May, a Service was held in St. Anne’s Church, Shandon in Cork to mark International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. This year’s service took its theme from Cork City LGBT Awareness week – ‘Allies for Inclusion’.
The Reverend Sarah Marry, in introducing the Service, commented that:
our connectedness as those who are created in the image of God, as those who share a common identity in Christ leads us to value and respect one another. God in his relating to us invites us to follow this pattern in our relationships with one another. So if our individual stories are known intimately by God then we are invited to know something of one another’s stories. We don’t then value or respect those whose stories are just like our own but in hearing those stories and finding moments of compassion, empathy and connection we create relationship. And from this we have only two choices; to be an ally or not, to stand alongside one another or to reject, to welcome or exclude.
The speaker at the Service, Sara-Jane Cromwell, spoke from her experience of Gender Identity Disorder reflected on this and drew on Psalm 139 to speak of a God who doesn’t make mistakes but who is able fulfil his purposes through every life, a God who invites each person to know his love through the particular circumstances and challenges of their own story. She spoke of the pain of being unable to attend church and feeling isolated and excluded. She reflected on what it was like to be without allies and the difference it makes to have them. Sara-Jane expressed a deep faith that has endured through her life and she expressed the joy then of finding places and people of welcome and encouragement.
Choir Choral Con Fusion directed by Joanne Murphy and accompanied by Brenda Griffin lifted their voices in song to give thanks for allies in our city.
Sara-Jane’s moving words served as a reminder that while there is much to celebrate, the need for this day and this mark of solidarity sadly persists. St. Anne’s is proud to be the home for this while the need exists and continues to enjoy the friendships and fellowship the occasion affords with members of the LGBT+ community in the parish and across our city.