Greenbelt and SCM back walk of repentance for homophobia

By staff writers
10 Jun 2011

The Greenbelt festival and the Student Christian Movement (SCM) are among 11 national organisations to have endorsed plans by Christian writer Symon Hill to walk 160 miles as a pilgrimage of repentance for his former homophobia.

Hill will launch his pilgrimage with an event in Birmingham on Wednesday evening (15 June). He will begin walking to London the next morning, arriving in time to join the Pride march on 2 July.

Organisations to have endorsed the walk include two evangelical groups - Accepting Evangelicals and Courage - along with two Anglican groups, Changing Attitude and Inclusive Church.

Other supporters include Bisexual Index, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Young Friends' General Meeting, the official body of Quakers aged around 18-30.

They are joined by the Christian thinktank Ekklesia along with Workshop, which runs courses on Christian discipleship.

The walk has also been endorsed by individual churches and local groups. The majority of endorsements were received within the last two weeks, with five arriving in less than 24 hours after plans for the walk were reported in the national media this week.

Jenny Baker, Acting Festival Director of Greenbelt, declared yesterday (9 June) that "Greenbelt is happy to support and encourage Symon in his walk of repentance". She described Hill, who has been attending Greenbelt for years and spoken at it twice, as "a loyal festivalgoer" who promoted an inclusive approach.

"We are pleased that we now have the opportunity to reciprocate that support, as Symon explores and promotes a vision of a faith where all are welcome," she said.

Greenbelt has previously been criticised for giving a platform to speakers accepting of same-sex relationships, including human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and US bishop Gene Robinson.

However, Greenbelt, point out that those with different opinions also attend the festival and that their speakers have a range of views.

"It’s great to see someone working on the underlying attitudes, as well as coming clean about their own previous homophobia," said Marcus Morgan, spokesperson for Bisexual Index.

He added, "We really can’t find a solution if everyone pretends they’re not part of the problem. Symon Hill’s pilgrimage is certainly a step towards a more tolerant society, and an inspiration.”

Symon Hill said he had been overwhelmed with the number of endorsements he had received over the last few days.

"What I am doing is far from unique," he said, "There are many, many Christians who recognise that homophobia is a sin and that the Church as a whole needs to repent of it."

More information on the pilgrimage of repentance, including details of city centre events in Birmingham, Oxford and London, can be found at http://www.repenting.wordpress.com.

[Ekk/1]

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