Op dinsdag 10 december jl. ontvingen COC Nederland en de LCC Plus Organisaties Tatjana Lehatkova in de Oranjekerk. Tatjana is christen en lesbisch en woont en werkt in Sint Petersburg, geen gemakkelijke combinatie. Tatjana presenteerde haar werk voor de organisatie Nuntiare et Recreare en er was een gesprek tussen Heleen de Boer (Europees Forum christelijke LHBT-groepen), Louise Smits (idem), Koen van Dijk (COC Nederland) en Wester Meijdam (Ministerie OCW) over de manier waarop we elkaar kunnen ondersteunen. Wielie Elhorst, voorzitter van het LKP, opende de bijeenkomst. Zijn welkomstwoord vind je onder "Lees meer".
Van harte welkom hier in de Oranjekerk. Wij ontmoeten vanavond Tatjana Lehatkova en staan stil bij haar ervaringen als christen en lesbienne in Sint Petersburg. Wij hopen op een zinvolle en mooie ontmoeting.
I change to English now, to give Tatjana a chance to understand what is being said as well. Welcome, Tatjana, first and foremost to you. We met you in the family of the European Forum of LGBT Christian groups more than once and we are very happy to have you in our midst this night. You are a sister, always carrying on, and we are very grateful to be able to share in your experiences this night in this church.
Only last Sunday in this very church a visiting minister delivered a sermon on one of the four women without whom the coming of Jesus Christ would not have been possible. Her name was Rahab and she was a whore, a prostitute, living on the walls, ‘de wallen’ we would say in Dutch, of the city of Jericho. She helped the Hebrew slaves to invade their Promised Land. Because of this action Rahab made it into the family tree of Jesus which you can find in the Gospel according to Matthew.
The story of Rahab is exemplary for a lot of stories in the Bible in which God chooses people that do not belong, that do not coincide with what ought to be, or as some LGBT people would put it, who are ‘queer’. Be not afraid, I will not deliver another sermon here, but if one thing is very clear and has to be made clear, for me as a Christian and as a minister, it is that we, the churches, should take very serious notice of these stories and the particular ‘queer’ way in which God unfolds his plan of salvation and redemption for mankind. People who are queer in the Bible in whatever way are of core value to the message of the Bible and of the Gospel in particular. Too often LGBT people are treated as one more issue concerning equality, emancipation or social acceptance, also in the churches. We come behind a dot on the agendas of Councils of Churches and Boards of Ministers, but we are seldom seen as belonging to the very core of what the Gospel itself is. And it is about time churches do so. Talking about and blessing children, according to Marc 10, Jesus Himself says: if you want to enter into the Kingdom of God, you have to be as children, that is: you have to be as, outcasts, which children in Jesus’ time were, not being ‘sons of the law’ yet (girls did not amount to much anyway). Churches have to understand that they essentially need LGBT’s as not to hurt the very heart of the message of the Gospel. Identifying with outcast brings the Kingdom of God closer and realizes it here and now.
Even in The Netherlands we are in general, to my belief, still a long way from this perspective, this vision, let alone in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia in particular. We are very happy and proud to be able to welcome you in a church building, Tatjana, something that for you and your organization Nuntiare et Recreare in Sint Petersburg, is impossible. We are glad and we rejoice in the reality that we can be your extended kin, your brothers and sisters, in welcoming you in a church here. This church, the Oranjekerk, is a LGBT church, or to put in the words of our minister Rev. Jantine Heuvelink when she welcomed the Christian LGBT organization ContariO here last year: without the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders a lot of the work done in this church would break down. I belief she did not simply express that we are needed, but that we are unmissable in what a community in the Name of Christ is supposed to be.
We are very grateful that in the last few years we, that is, the so called LCC Plus Organizations, have had the opportunity to start building up relationships with people like Tatjana and their organizations and to support each other in building a society and a church in which people can participate fully, on the basis of equality. We owe this to the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences, but also to the ongoing efforts of organizations such as COC Netherlands and the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups who have paved and are paving the way and who are unmissable partners in our work.
I am very delighted that national and transnational organizations such as the International Lesbian and Gay Association, the European Parliament and also the World Council of Churches increasingly understand that in regions of the world such as Eastern Europa and Africa the voices of LGBT Christians have to be heard. Especially in those countries where the political and moral agendas are linked together all too closely, the voices of LGBT Christians can be the wholesome disturbing voice that shows the powers that are that no uniform and single minded normative story about people can be told nor laws or any other regulations can be issued on the very risk of excluding people without whom society can not function properly and church cannot call itself the Body of Christ. Booklets such as LGBT People, the Religions & Human Rights in Europa of Human Rights without Frontiers International and DVDs such as ‘Hear me Out’ of the European Forum of Christian LGBT Groups help to build dialogue and to create a common vocabulary for politicians, church leaders, activists and also journalists on this specific issue.
Tatjana, welcome once again, welcome to Louise Smits and Heleen de Boer, Board member and Female Co President of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, Koen van Dijk, Managing Director of COC Netherlands and Wester Meijdam of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences, and welcome to you all, on behalf of COC Netherlands and the LCC Plus Organizations.
Tatjana, Reverend Julia van Rijn, the general secretary of the Protestant Church of Amsterdam asked me to greet you and to convey to you words of courage. She is sorry she is unable to be here tonight.