This is a conversation between the priest Karen Rooms and transgender poet, author and educator Jay Hulme about what it’s like for them to be part of an ancient and LGBTQ+ affirming church.

As they recall the story of their developing friendship, their conversation guides us through the pandemic, Jay’s early faith experiences and Karen’s reflections on being a cisgender heterosexual woman entrusted with the care of a diverse and fully inclusive congregation. With humour, insight and creativity they offer a unique perspective on what it could mean to be church.

We have made this conversation public domain, so you are free to turn it into an episode on your own podcast. We ask that you don’t edit the conversation, but please do feel free to add your own introduction and reflections. We also ask that you acknowledge Nomad Podcast.

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QUOTES

“‘Coming out’ as a Christian is also part of our discipleship and part of our journey of owning what we really think. And coming out about not conforming, or changing what you think, or thinking differently to the teaching of the church – that’s a constant re-evaluation in my experience of being on this way.” – Karen Rooms

“What makes LGBT Christians feel safe in church? Flags and symbols is the thing that’s at the top of the list.” – Karen Rooms

“I have this whole thing about poetry being indefinable, and not the words, and the space around the words; poetry is the blank page, not the words on it…the words just lead you to the truth of the blank page.” – Jay Hulme

“Liturgy is people doing their best to reach out to something beyond, which is just what a poem is in its own way.” – Jay Hulme

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This is a conversation between Alex Clare-Young and Sarah Hobbs about their trans experience.
Alex is a transmasculine non-binary minister with the United Reformed Church, currently completing doctoral research into trans theology. Sarah is a trans woman, who leads a consultancy business, and is a speaker and trainer. Together they co-chair the Open Table Network, a partnership of Christian communities which welcome and affirm people who are LGBTQ+.
In the conversation Alex and Sarah honestly and vulnerably share their stories of coming to terms with their identities, their transition, the reaction of their faith communities, and their evolving relationship with the Bible and the Christian faith.

We have made this conversation public domain, so you are free to turn it into an episode on your own podcast. We ask that you don’t edit the conversation, but please do feel free to add your own introduction and reflections. We also ask that you acknowledge Nomad Podcast.

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“Part of the confusion and pain around it is that the church gave me an identity before I’d chosen one for myself.” – Alex Clare-Young

“Gender stereotypes need to end and we just need to be able to exist as who we are.” – Alex Clare-Young

“Every time I’d come out to anyone in a church context before, it had really always been because I wanted some help to try and not be who I felt like I was inside. Because that’s what you do in church – you resist that ‘sin’ of being trans.” – Sarah Hobbs

“In what way – in any way at all – is a trans person hurting you? Are they affecting your life in any way? Are they causing you difficulty in any way? Absolutely not. And you can choose not to interact with people. And so why people are going out of their way to make life difficult for trans people – it just doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. If you’re really that bothered, then just leave them alone and focus on something more positive in your life rather than trying to tear down a group of people who are just trying to survive and be happy.” – Sarah Hobbs

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This is a conversation between a Christian and a pagan. Emma Moreton is a former pastor, art therapist and activist, whose faith led her towards pagan spirituality and community. Lyn Baylis has practiced her pagan spirituality all of her life. She’s been a priestess for 40 years, is a Multi-faith minister, and is the UK Coordinator for LifeRites and Senior teacher on the LifeRites Foundation Course.
Here they talk about how their journeys took shape, how they’ve dealt with rejection and persecution, and what they’ve learned from one another.

We have made this conversation public domain, so you are free to turn it into an episode on your own podcast. We ask that you don’t edit the conversation, but please do feel free to add your own introduction and reflections. We also ask that you acknowledge Nomad Podcast.

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“With labels, it’s like drawing all these lines and all these boxes. And we put people into these different boxes to try and help us understand or presume what they think, what they believe, how they’re going to act or behave. And I’ve found that actually no labels or titles are satisfactory, because very few people are totally just one thing in any aspect of their lives.”

“Every time a line is drawn – people say who’s in and who’s out – we find that Jesus is on the other side of the line that’s being drawn.”

“Everything has that spark of the divine in it, so we’re not superior to nature; we are part of it.”

“It is all about education. It’s trying to get people to understand that the entrenched view that they’ve got is not real – it’s not reality. It is a view that they’ve been given from the past that they’ve hung onto. If they would step over that barrier to come and talk to us and be with us and share with us, they would find out that there isn’t a need to be frightened.”

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This is a conversation about the experience of death. Jim Robinson lost both his parents at quite a young age, and Liz Pattison recently lost her partner. They share their experiences of grief and loss, how friends, family and church responded, and how their faith has evolved through these experiences.
It’s an honest, real, insightful, moving and hopeful conversation.

We have made this conversation public domain, so you are free to turn it into an episode on your own podcast. We ask that you don’t edit the conversation, but please do feel free to add your own introduction and reflections. We also ask that you acknowledge Nomad Podcast.

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QUOTES

“With the kids, what I want for them is for them to have genuine connection with people – with me, with other adults who love them – so that they actually feel like they can talk about how they’re feeling. And if they’re not allowed to talk about the loss of their dad – not allowed to talk about death – then that basically shuts down a whole part of them, and then you can’t connect with them.”

“Generally, with people that are grieving, the worst thing is to assume you know what the other person feels.”

“One of the impacts of my own experience…is to really feel that life includes death, and death is part of life, and remembering people, and knowing that they’ve been here, and they’ve lived life is part of what we all experience. And for me, I’m trying to not fear that and to not see that as a negative thing: it is how it is.”

“People sometimes say beautiful, powerful things about people when they’ve died. But if you have the opportunity to say it to them when they’re still here, why would you not?”

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This is a conversation about the experience of the experience of spiritual abuse. Reflecting on their personal experiences, therapists Justin and Joy explore the impact of spiritual abuse, describing how they learnt to recognise it and what it was like to walk away from congregations they cared about deeply. They also share some of the healing and growth that has taken place as their lives changed and they began to recover and rebuild in different areas of their lives.

We have made this conversation public domain, so you are free to turn it into an episode on your own podcast. We ask that you don’t edit the conversation, but please do feel free to add your own introduction and reflections. We also ask that you acknowledge Nomad Podcast.

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QUOTES

“It’s no longer about wanting to prove that something happened, but it’s about wanting to bring something that feels so shameful into the light. And it’s about wanting to reach out a hand to anyone else who might have been in, or is in that situation and say, ‘You’re not on your own.’”

“The thing that makes spiritual abuse over just a simple power dynamic is that there’s an eternal aspect or an eternal dynamic to it, which is if you aren’t obedient, you might not get as good a place in heaven, or you might run the risk of not making it, or there’ll be some judgement attached to it. There’s a sense of you’re doing it not for the leader or for the church, but you’re working for God. So, it’s almost like the human leader is putting himself in the place of God and you can’t really argue with a deity, can you? You can’t really argue with God.”

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This is a conversation about the experience of the experience of women in church. Jemimah and Joy reflect on their experiences as women who grew up immersed in evangelical Christianity. Unpicking some of the messages they absorbed over the years, they examine what it means for them to move away from repression and reconnect with their embodied and internal experiencing. Learning to value their own voice, they also explore the responsibility that comes with agency and privilege within their respective communities.

We have made this conversation public domain, so you are free to turn it into an episode on your own podcast. We ask that you don’t edit the conversation, but please do feel free to add your own introduction and reflections. We also ask that you acknowledge Nomad Podcast.

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QUOTES

“The message I grew up with seemed to be having strong opinions was not ‘submitting’ in the way that we should be. I think it undermines confidence in listening to yourself, in valuing how you respond to something. If you’re troubled by something and yet told that actually this is how it is – and the leaders and the men or whoever is creating it have done it like that – and you feel a bit troubled with it, it turns the issue around onto yourself. You become the issue, rather than actually maybe I have something to offer here that could help. And maybe actually I should be valuing how I’m responding.”

“What happened in that story that I described didn’t feel like I was finally able to be a ‘true woman’; it just felt like I was able to be who I was created to be – a human. And I feel like the things we’ve been describing – systems that suppress certain aspects of our humanity – is applicable to everyone regardless of gender.”

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This is a conversation about the experience of disability. Zoe is a priest in the Church of England and for many years has suffered with chronic pain, which often means she has to use a wheelchair. Nick works for the Christian charity Cord and hosts Nomad Podcast. He has been visually impaired since he was a teenager.  Zoe and Nick talk openly and honestly about their experience of disability, how it has shaped their life, faith, and experience of church, and how they’ve come to understand what it means to be whole.

We have made this conversation public domain, so you are free to turn it into an episode on your own podcast. We ask that you don’t edit the conversation, but please do feel free to add your own introduction and reflections. We also ask that you acknowledge Nomad Podcast.

Click on the download button to access the MP3 and WAV files, and guest images and bios.

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QUOTES

“For me the kind of consistent theology that I know I can feel on firm ground with is God is here in the midst of this. When people say, ‘Why me?’ my natural reflex is, ‘Well, why not you?’ Life is how it is. And it’s a mixture of everything for everybody actually. And so the Christ figure Jesus coming and living in that and showing us that that’s not all there is and that that it’s not an end does feel like really safe ground for me. Because I’ve experienced that – God breaking into those moments when I dare to reach out when I’m in a difficult place…and nothing particularly changes, but that sense of God being with you is really transformative somehow.”

“I just think the way [Jesus] lived rather than the way he died is more interesting. And more helpful in terms of us as people trying to live a faithful life. But then the resurrection is kind of the next level of that really. So, the fact that he came back with scars means that the story’s never wasted and that our scars tell our story. That feels very real to me.”

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This is a conversation about the experience of race. Writer, broadcaster, and Head of Community Fundraising and Public Engagement at Christian Aid Chine McDonald and writer and Church of England Priest Azariah France Wiliams discuss their understanding and experience of blackness and how that has shaped their identity, their place in society and the way they relate to God and Church.

We have made this conversation public domain, so you are free to turn it into an episode on your own podcast. We ask that you don’t edit the conversation, but please do feel free to add your own introduction and reflections. We also ask that you acknowledge Nomad Podcast, and the producers Tim Nash and David Benjamin Blower.

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BOOKS

A. D. A France Williams – Ghost Ship: Institutional Racism and the Church of England

Chine McDonald – God Is Not a White Man: And Other Revelations

QUOTES

“I spent a month on the island of Nevis working with the Anglican church and all the priests are Black. And so…when you’re the majority group, you just think of yourself as you. You’re just free to be a human. I was just free to be Azariah then with my other priestly colleagues. Whereas here, I do feel like I’m ‘Azariah the Black priest.’ And I’ve got to work against things.”

“People talk about ‘code switching’…how we adjust our language, our postures to who we think is the dominant in the setting. And so I’m just aware of how often I’ve been shifting myself in order to accommodate what I perceive to be the cultural norms of a setting instead of feeling at ease and free to bring my whole self.”

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