The Church of England is now in the discernment phase of the Living in Love and Faith process, and we are all personally affected by the nature of the discussions. For those who themselves identify as LGBT+ and who are keenly affected or may be wrestling with how those discussions directly impact on their lives, relationships and calling, the CofE Birmingham LGBT+ Chaplaincy Support Team seek to offer,
- a safe and confidential space for people aged over 18 within the Church of England Birmingham, where they can be confident they will be listened to with attentiveness and respect
- prayer and spiritual support by request
- guidance regards other longer-term sources of pastoral support and encouragement, and churches who are intentionally inclusive and welcoming of LGBT+ people
- up to three one-hour chaplaincy sessions to any individual
- signposting to other services as appropriate
Members of the team include those of diverse sexualities and approaches, and are committed to full inclusion of LGBT+ people and to honouring their relationships. They all fully affirm and work in line with the vote by General Synod that backed the motion calling for a ban on the practice of conversion therapy.
All these chaplains are volunteers who undertake a range of other licensed / authorised ministry across the Church of England Birmingham, ordained and lay. They are subject to enhanced DBS checks and have completed full CofE safeguarding training.
The team is coordinated and supervised by the Revd Canon Barrie Scott and the Revd Siobhan Bridge, details of all current team members is found below
Confidential Requests to meet with a Chaplain
To request a confidential conversation with a chaplain, either via Zoom or in person, please include the following information in an email enquiry to LGBTplusChaplaincySupport@cofebirmingham.com
- Your first name
- Your email address. (Your email address is not captured for any other purpose than allowing the chaplain to contact you. All subsequent emails between you and the chaplain supporting you are confidential).
- Confirmation that you are part of / relate to the Church of England Birmingham
- If you feel that you would be more comfortable meeting with a particular chaplain listed below, please indicate their name. Your request will be passed on to any preferred chaplain, who will meet with you if they are available.
- Any brief note or message that you would like to include about your request. This information will only be seen by the LGBT+ chaplaincy coordinator and the chaplain you meet with. Your privacy and safety is important.
Meet the Chaplains ….
The Revd Canon Barrie Scott (Chaplaincy coordinator)
Barrie is Deputy Director of Education for the Diocese of Birmingham, after being the parish priest at St John’s Perry Barr for 8 years to January 2023. St John’s is an Inclusive Church. Barrie has also been headteacher of two comprehensive schools, one of which became a Stonewall Schools Founding Champion school, and he has given talks to students at schools nationwide about the joys (and challenges) of being gay in schools and in the Church of England (the latter being far more of a challenge!). He is secretary of the Birmingham Diocesan Changing Attitude group, and has been involved in campaigning for LGBT+ inclusion in society and in the Church since the age of 16. When asked about his "coming out" experience, Barrie replies "I was never in".
The Revd Siobhan Bridge (Assistant Chaplaincy coordinator)
Siobhan is vicar of St Paul Hamstead. Growing up in a clergy household she sadly witnessed the homophobic and transphobia of the Church of England and instead of turning her away from the church of Christ, it turned her into an impassioned ally for LGBT+ sisters and brothers. This stems from her understanding of all humanity being “fearfully and wonderfully” made.
The Revd Trevor Thurston-Smith
Trevor is an openly gay priest with a Civil Partner. He is Vicar of St Matthew's Perry Beeches which is part of the 'Inclusive Church' network. Trevor worked for several years as a full time HIV/AIDS Chaplain in the Leicester Diocese where he provided spiritual and pastoral support to the LGBT+ community and others affected by HIV, and engaged with churches of all denominations and other faith groups in challenging the stigma around sexuality and sexual health.
Mr Paul Martin (Reader)
Paul is the Licensed Reader and a member of the ministry team at Old Church Smethwick. Old Church is a member of the Inclusive Church network, working towards becoming a church that does not discriminate, a church that celebrates and affirms every person as they uniquely are. Paul is a supporter of Changing Attitude.
The Revd Colleen Shekerie
Colleen is Anglican priest who has recently been appointed as chaplain to Birmingham Cathedral. She spent her curacy in Smethwick at an inclusive church. Before becoming a priest, Colleen was a psychotherapist in both the NHS and private practice and has had experience of working with the LGBTQIA+ and their families. Colleen is committed to the flourishing of God’s people, listening to the voices of the marginalised and walking alongside all who have encountered painful experiences.
The Rev Alison Bownass
Alison is an active retired priest helping out in a number of Birmingham parishes and is very involved in funeral ministry. Previously a Personnel Manager then teacher before her ordination, she relishes opportunities to get alongside people. Alison strongly believes in a welcoming and inclusive church.
The Revd Canon Julian Sampson
Julian is incumbent of a church in Small Heath on the edge of the city centre, and is a part of the Bishop’s Interfaith Relations Team. He is currently also a member of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) Reference Group which has supported the Bishops in their discussions around LLF, and the discernment process that has ensued. Julian brings a wealth of pastoral experience to this role, having worked in some of the most challenging prisons and parishes in the UK, and through his contribution to the LLF process, he has become more acutely aware of the personal cost that the current debate brings to bear on members of the clergy and laity in a myriad of different ways.
The Revd Dr Samuel Gibson
Samuel is Vicar at St George's in Edgbaston, on the southern edge of the city centre. He also helps train people for lay and ordained ministry across CofE Birmingham. The parish he serves is diverse and includes students and recent graduates from Birmingham's universities, some of whom seek the church as a place of welcome and inclusion. Before ordination, Samuel trained as an academic in New Testament studies and continues to teach and write. Discussing and sharing theology is one of the great joys of his life, especially wrestling with Biblical texts that seem challenging or demanding! Growing up in a household with LGBT+ parents in the 1990s informs his approach to ministry, especially as he seeks to walk alongside those who feel marginalised or hurt and encourage people in their journey with God. Samuel is married to Charlotte, who is also a priest, and they have two children
Ben currently serves as HR Director for the CofEB and lives in Sutton Coldfield with his Civil Partner. He has been involved in a variety of churches across the traditions, both affirming and not of those from the LGBTQIA+ communities, and has actively served on Deanery, Diocesan and General Synod as well as the Diocesan LLF Reference Group and is Co-convenor of the Birmingham Diocesan Changing Attitude group. Ben is especially interested in the intersection of sexuality with other individual characteristics, including gender, age, race, disability and socio-economic status, as well as exploring relationship diversity for the LGBTQIA+ communities.
Diane is a lay Reader at St Peter’s Church Harborne, a church that seeks to be inclusive. She is a cis straight woman and has been divorced a few times and has four adult children and grandchildren. Diane worked in the NHS as a GP and NHS manager. She has had a wide range of experience and is interested in mental health, and supporting LGBTQIA+ family situations including surrogacy. She is a vegan and lives with 5 rabbits and a dog. Diane believes that God loves and has compassion for all their creation and tries to show that in her ministry.