GIN-SSOGIE kicks off the Religious Dialogue Partners (RDP) Process in Southern Africa

Some of the members of the faith collective who worked on the design of the curriculum – from left: Rev Nokuthula Dhladhla, Rev Judith Kotze, Jan Bjarne Sodal (FRI) and Madelene Isaacks (Tulinam)

In April this year GIN Secretariat together with its key Faith Collective partners including Inclusive and Affirming Ministries, Tulinam, FRI, and FOCCISA and Positive Vibes convened the first selection of LGBTIQ+ people of faith from across five countries in southern Africa to begin the process of preparing to engage with religious leaders in meaningful dialogue. This was held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The meeting saw GIN bringing together a total of 15 selected participants that each applied to be part of the RDP process. The process was a week-long curriculum, entitled Hearts set on Pilgrimage, that takes each participant through various parts of engaging with their individual faith journey and then culminating into the preparation of each participant to enter into meaningful dialogue with their religious leaders in their various countries. This pilot was well received and assisted not only GIN but also the partners and participants themselves in identifying possible gaps in the layout of the weeks’ sessions as well as the interconnectivity between contextual bible study, self-actualization with in the confines of ones’ faith and the ability to hold a space of engagement that is productive, respectful and affirming.

Participants wrestle with thorny issues during the Hearts Set on Pilgrimage workshop.

The week-long process is emotionally driven as participants are encouraged to unravel their unique and very specific faith journeys. Facilitators and those who would be future facilitators in this process were also challenged to hold this space of serenity and reconciliation. The week ended in a celebration and appreciative acknowledgment that there are a number of allies and support structures for LGBTIQ+ people of faith to turn to.

The way forward from this process of the RDP is to now prepare both religious leaders and LGBTIQ+ people of faith for the actual interaction of dialogue in each of their home countries. Furthermore, this will link in well with GIN’s upcoming launch of their Speakers’ Bureau that may select a few participants from this group to share their faith journey at high level engagements. Keep your eyes out for our next newsletter that will expand on this and other activities that will be taking place.

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