Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) works in a network of partnerships with NGOs in Southern and Eastern Africa and addresses homophobia and negative beliefs about same-sex relations within faith communities. Among the range of activities that IAM performs with their partners throughout East and South Africa, workshops play an important role.
In 2013 70 theological students participated in a workshop about ignorance, intolerance and stigma against the LGBTI community at the “Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary” (South-Africa). Through its workshops IAM succeeds in changing local attitudes of Christian faith believers and creating a more tolerant climate towards the LGBTI community and towards HIV. One of the participants in the workshop:
As a person who was totally against gays and lesbians in leadership of the church, the workshop of IAM not only helped me to accept gays, lesbians and people living with HIV, but also made me want to help create awareness and support.
IAM realized another success with the Anti-bias Workshop held for the Diakonia Council of Churches (DCC) in Durban. The topics homophobia and stigma of PLHIV were addressed. Some of the comments included:
Thank you for the safe space you created for this dialogue. It gave me the courage to come out as a lesbian to my colleagues at this workshop. I feel liberated. This had the unexpected result that DCC will now annually put Sexual Orientation and PLHIV on their agenda as an area of concern in working with partner churches.
This was the first time that I experienced real open dialogue in a safe space about such a sensitive issue. It opened my mind to the possibilities within the Church. If we can stop polarizing through debate and have more dialogue I can see great possibilities of changing attitudes within my congregation and the church as a whole. Thank you, we need so much more of this skilled facilitation.