Hearts Set on Pilgrimage finds solid ground

Hearts Set on Pilgrimage finds solid ground

Six incredible months have passed since the last update on the Religious Dialogue Partners programme. Since April this year the programme has expanded to Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi. In each of these countries the implementation is at various levels.

In Botswana a Hearts Set on Pilgrimage (HSoP) retreat was held between the 9th – 14th of June. This saw 15 LGBTIQ+ individuals of Christian faith gather to embark on their personal journeys towards integrating their sexual orientation, gender identity and their faith. This retreat was profound as on the 11th of June an historic court judgement was made to decriminalize consensual same sex relations. The retreat venue broke out in cries of jubilation and we were all so moved by this significant milestone that had been achieved. The ruling added positivity and encouragement to all in the room and the energy was electric. Since the retreat 8 LGBTIQ+ dialogue partners are active in 4 regions across Bostwana. This group has also taken the initiative to set up a support group mechanism which GIN is providing support to be held through the management of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) as the local grounding partner. We are excited to see how further progress is made in Bots!

In Mozambique inroads are being made in order to coordinate the holding of a Hearts Set on Pilgrimage retreat. We are proud to announce the release of a Portuguese translation of the HSoP manual which you are welcome to request from Pierre at pierre@gin-ssogie.org

So far, we have had two meetings in-country and are working closely with Lambda in order to set up a date to facilitate the actual HSoP retreat for LGBTIQ+ people of Christian faith. In the meantime, the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) has held its Training of Trainers through the use of the One Body Supplement and a number of the membership churches are nearing closer to welcome dialogue with LGBTIQ+ individuals. The CCM have held an awareness raising as well among religious leaders in order to create enabling environment for the opportunity to engage meaningfully around the topic of sexuality and gender in relation to the Church.

In Namibia we have recently returned from hosting a transformative HSoP retreat with 15 amazing individuals from 4 different regions and a number of organisations. The retreat was held at Out of Nature Country Lodge between the 6th – 11th of October. The Namibians have not wasted time and are proceeding with plans for engagement with their respective communities and have shared how they needed a process such as the HSoP retreat to either begin or sustain their individual journeys of integration. They too, have plans to hold a number of support meetings for each other on a regular basis through some support from GIN. We thank Tulinam for assisting us in coordinating the local logistics and for each of the organisations that were represented through these amazing individuals.

Then there is the warm heart of Africa, Malawi. FOCISSA travelled with us as we had several meetings to understand the local context within the country and within the context of religion, gender and sexuality. We spent 3 days in Malawi and have taken meaningful information from our engagement with the various individuals. It is apparent the HSoP retreat will amplify the religious work that has already taken place in the country. There is a belief that the HSoP is unique as it focuses on the wellness and ability of the LGBTIQ+ communities to engage with their communities at their individual pace. We would like to thank Ivy Foundation’s Executive Director and the team for their support prior and during our trip to the warm hearts of Africa.

Overall the RDP process has rapidly taken shape and is finding solid ground within the region and gaining momentum. In the weeks to come we will head back to Lesotho as a means of follow-up as well as support for the each of the LGBTIQ+ dialogue partners that took part in the HSoP retreat in January this year. We are looking forward to strengthen this form of advocacy of holding spiritually moving spaces that move people’s hearts and minds. We will also be supporting Matrix Support Group as they host Lesotho Pride over the next couple of days.

If there is any information that you would like form the above programme please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Pierre pierre@gin-ssogie.org or call on +2710 446 1990 9am – 5pm (CAT).