Despite winter weather and work commitments keeping many people away, there was still a good turnout of both members and visitors to the last WGWG training session, with invited members from Galaxies gay Christian group as guest speakers.
The first difference between Galaxies and other groups is that they describe themselves as “Christian-ish” being open to views, philosophies and learning from all enlightened faiths and practices. The group is made up of a range of people with different spiritual outlooks, from mainstream Christianity to unique, individualistic forms of spirituality. Their common goal is the exploration and discussion of individual and group spirituality in a loving and accepting manner and environment. And that means fun as well as serious discussions!
The discussion was led by Peter, Tony and Ryan. All three are gay men from different Christian backgrounds and experiences and they express their individual beliefs in different manners. This is one of the strong points of Galaxies.
Tony gave a brief history of Galaxies, which sprung from the Law Reform Movement in 1986. Many gay Christians at that time were struggling to find their identity and expression of faith within mainstream Christianity. Galaxies, as a group, was one of two groups founded after the 2 gay Christian conferences in Auckland and Wellington in 1991-2. It has not moved very far from the original foundations.
Galaxies started as a mixed group of non-denominational Christians. It was not clergy led or affiliated to any denomination. Times of worship used contemporary resources with emphasis on creativity and NZ content. For many years, Galaxies ran a yearly Advent service with a choir. Public activities included church advocacy for LGBT rights and law reform submissions. Many WGWG members will be familiar with the Galaxies name as financial supporters of WGWG in various projects over the last few years.
Today, the services are a shared meal with an informal discussion or relevant DVD or a communal time of prayer and reflection, often including resources and practices from non-Christian traditions.
The question time was wide ranging. Questions ranged from the practical, such as how can Galaxies help LGBT today? To more theological but just as important questions, such as What is spirituality? And how do we define God?
There were some very practical questions about how Galaxies could help the WGWG helpline. How do we counteract homophobia? As well as providing a safe environment for worship, Galaxies can provide scholarly articles on theology and LGBT issues within the church, as well as being a source of LGBT role model stories and news items. Galaxies also provides an alternative to the bar scene for LGBT people who want to socialise outside of the jetset!
Pete has also released a collection of books and publications in PDF form that show how LGBT people are not condemned in the Bible but how these key scriptures have been misused.
There are brochures with contact details in the WGWG office, or you can contact Galaxies through their website at http://www.galaxies.org.nz/ The next Galaxies meeting is Sunday, 24 June at 5.30pm and will celebrate the Winter Solstice. Galaxies meets in St Andrews on The Terrace, through the side entrance.