We believe in change — Experiences with faith based actors in international human rights work for LGBTQI+” unter diesem Titel haben sich am 27. April 2023 im Berliner Kulturzentrum Oyoun rund 30 internationale Aktivist*innen aus dem globalen Norden mit Vertreter*innen von Kirchen, INGOs und der Bundesregierung zu einem halbtägigen Workshop getroffen. Thema war die internationale Menschenrechtsarbeit mit und für LSBTIQ*Personen und die Kooperation mit kirchlichen und religiös orientierten Gruppen. Wir veröffentlichen den Beitrag von Pastorin Martina Basso, Vereinigung der Deutschen Mennonitengemeinden (VDM) in englischer Sprache mit freundlicher Genehmigung.
Input by Martina Basso, Generalsecretary of the German Mennonite Association (Vereinigung Der Deutschen Mennonitengemeinden) for the Kickoff event “We believe in change –We believe in Change – Experiences with faith based actors in international human rights work for LGBTQI+ on 27 April 2023 in Berlin.
We need urgent action in order to save the life and the spiritual life of queer
The first obstacle engaging for change is the fact of time. Transformation needs time – but often in situations like those in Uganda we do not have enough time for change and transformation because people are actually threatened. On the other hand time is our only chance that we have if transformation could have success.
An example from one of the Anabaptist Churches: Across North America, Mennonites are widely regarded to be among the most conservative of Christian groups. But in recent decades, Mennonite understandings of LGBTQ+ identity have transformed faith communities, for example through engagement of activists such as Pink Menno. Recent ordinations and the growing visibility of queer pastors and theologians have led to recent schism in Mennonite Church USA, with traditionalists leaving the denomination in large numbers.
The decentralized nature of Mennonites has contributed to more inclusive policies in the past two decades, although decentralization also allows exclusionary practices to persist in some churches and institutions. In some sectors of the Mennonite community queer and non-queer people are accelerating changes in historically homophobic spaces. But it needs time and meanwhile people have left their churches and have lost their spiritual homes, their family network, their social network.
This is a church that is fully inclusive of all God’s people—a rainbow (Genesis 1:26)
One question during the World Assembly of the World Council of Churches September 2022 in Karlsruhe, Germany, was the following: Must the queer offer patience or solidarity to the churches? Yes, because we need time and no, because silence is violence.
On the other hand Queer people for example from the continent of Africa said events like the WCC Assembly are great, because here the African churches “have to talk with us. We have a lot of engagement here.” 2011 there was an assembly of the WCC in Kingston, Jamaica. I was there – and I didn’t think that 11 years later it would have been possible to speak of „Rainbow Pilgrims of Faith“, to have a space for LGBTIQ+ people of faith during the World assembly 2022.
We need time and endurance
The second obstacles are specific theological points of view: Myself was assaulted as a cancer boil in the body of Christ. That was 1987 in Berlin, during a discussion with a minister of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD). In 2022 the moderator of the World Council of Churches, Dr. Agnes Aboum said, asked about her dreams of a church, that „this is a church that is fully inclusive of all God’s people—a rainbow (Genesis 1:26); affirming that all are created in the image of God, and are wonderfully made.“
If we do not follow a theology which acknowledges the dignity of all human beings created in the image of God – church as an institution has to fail and will fail. So what we need in our work is urgent action in order to save the life and the spiritual life of queers, we need time and endurance – and we have the task to not getting tired of talking about the biblical inclusiveness because of our creation in the image of God. A quote from Arundhati Roy: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. Maybe many of us won’t be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing.”
Input by Martina Basso, pastor and managing director German Mennonite Association (Vereinigung der Deutschen Mennonitengemeinden) for the Kickoff event “We believe in change — Experiences with faith based actors in international human rights work for LGBTQI+” on 27 April 2023 in Berlin as part of the We believe in change-project by Hirschfeld-Eddy-Foundation.