In the beginning…
The Living Out website first went live on 29th November 2013. It looked very different. (I miss the original bunting). It was much smaller: with the written content mainly provided by just three people (me, Sam Allberry and Sean Doherty). A wider team had wonderfully helped us make it happen and I can remember a celebratory meal in the London garden of friends of Living Out (though that can’t have been in November!).
At the heart of the website were the first batch of story films (still there today) filmed in a west London park and, rather improbably, showing Sam, Sean and me (and some others) playing golf. Our simple aim was to get our stories of being same-sex attracted Christians who believe in Jesus’s sexual ethic out there – into a context where few knew we even existed. Our expectation was that having done that we’d be able to quietly walk away and get on with other things.
Since those small beginnings...
Our expectations have been dashed by a God who has graciously taken that website and its stories to launch a ministry that has had a much greater positive impact than any of us imagined back in 2013. That story could be told in stats or testimonies, but I’d love to tell it through the people that have, through a combination of their gifts, weaknesses and God’s strength, made it happen.
The original editorial team of myself, Sean and Sam were those that took an idea that came out of meetings in Vaughan Roberts’ sitting room and somehow made it a reality. Others that worked alongside us raising the seed funding, shooting the films, building the first website, debating the name (somewhere I have a list of c.100 possibilities), know who they are and we are eternally grateful to each of them. Sam and Sean are still both involved, and we’ve taken a trip down memory lane in a podcast that will be dropping soon (a good reason to subscribe now!).
We became a UK charity a few years into our existence and, thanks to generous financial supporters, were able to begin to build a staff team – all of whom work part-time so that our lives are not totally dominated by questions around sexuality. Our first recruit was Simon who still heads up operations for us – his hard work behind the scenes is part of what makes everything else possible. He perfectly masterminded one of the highlights of the last ten years – the Identity in Christ Conference that Tim and Kathy Keller came to speak at in 2018.
Anne joined us to bring both a female and youthful perspective to the speaking and writing team – somehow I didn’t notice she was older than me! As our Content Director she led the relaunch of our website in 2021, scrapping the bunting, but ensuring that we have a website on which the ever-increasing number of different resources can be enjoyed. She’s also produced all eight seasons of our podcast which has fast become our most-valued resource.
Andy first served as a trustee, but then joined the staff as our Training Director. He has developed our Living Out Days broadening their focus to not just equipping church leaders but helping all church members build biblically inclusive churches. He’s also started our webinars for church leaders which have become one of our best contexts for equipping leaders.
Andrew joined the team as we all went into lockdown in March 2020. He badgers us all for material for the weekly blog and competes with Anne for the most amount of material they’ve produced for the website. He’s now our Emerging Generations Director focusing on the experiences and needs of under 25s. There are plans aplenty for the future with the Youth Leaders’ Crash Course podcast series giving a sense of how good these will be.
Dan joined us to cover some maternity leave and we’ve managed to keep him on one day a week as our Digital Content Manager. He looks after social media for us – Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram (do you follow us?). He also writes occasional blog posts that are always worth a read.
Ashleigh is our latest paid recruit – working alongside Andrew on Emerging Generations and bringing her youth work experience to the Youth Leaders’ Crash Course. Like the rest of the team, she is often out and about speaking for Living Out at churches and conferences.
Adam has just started volunteering with us and will be leaning into the training side of things. He’ll be supported (as we all are) by Hannah our Administrator who took over from Millie. Millie and Hannah are, alongside Simon, the unseen and unsung heroes of the last ten years.
At each trustee meeting, I have the pleasure of reporting back to Keith, Helen, Rosie and Gaby on how we are doing at fulfilling our vision. In God’s grace, there is always good news to share of new encouragements and opportunities.
The next ten years?
There is still much to do – especially positively engaging emerging generations, and in helping older generations not to become purely reactionary to constant cultural change. We started just seeking to help same-sex attracted Christians like ourselves – we’ve increasingly broadened our focus so that now, as our vision states, ‘We want to see Christians live out their sexuality and identity in ways that enable all to flourish in Christ-like faithfulness.’ We hope that we’ve helped you do just that, whatever your experiences around sexuality and identity, and we want to continue to do that as long as God allows us to play our part in furthering his plans and purposes.
Around our tenth anniversary, we’re encouraging as many people as possible to join our £10 Club. Our aim is to find 500 people who are willing to give £10 (or $10) a month to help us add to those who have, very kindly, made all of the above possible through their giving. Our thanks to them and, in anticipation, to you too!