MANY people have been put off the Church forever because of the “cruel behaviour” of Christians, a vicar has said on the eve of a series of Pride services in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale this weekend.

The physical services will be at St John’s, Hale Road, at 9.30am; St George’s, Badshot Lea, at 10am; and St Mark’s, Alma Lane, at 11am.

Like Pride Month, which takes place in June, the services are an opportunity to celebrate LGBTQI+ people in their fullness, to look back on strides toward equality, and to imagine a world where celebration and full inclusion is the norm, not an exception.?

There will be special hymns, prayers and poetry, along with sermons and reflections by members of the LGBTQI+ community.

Lesley Crawley, Rector of the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale, explains some of the thinking behind the services: “Christians have historically punished and ostracised LGBTQI+ people, scripture has been weaponised and the Church has contributed to the political, relational and spiritual dehumanising of LGBTQI+ people. This has resulted in deep pain, bullying and death and rightfully many people have been put off the Church forever because of the cruel behaviour of Christians.?

“As Christians, we give up a piece of our full humanity when we forgo compassion and treat people as objects worthy of scorn or violence. Pride gives us an opportunity to end oppressive practices and ideology while also becoming more fully human ourselves.?

“In these services we repent of the past and we look with optimism to the future. We stand with people who identify as LGBTQI+ and proclaim loudly that all people are loved by God and all people are welcome here.

“We thank God for the immense diversity of human beings and the love God has for us all. We recognise the way stereotypes have limited us all in terms of being able to be truly ourselves. We celebrate love in all its forms and we thank the God of Love that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.”

There will be Pride services at all three churches in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale this Sunday, August 8, and online on the parish website

Everyone is welcome to join the services and to watch the online service which can be found at ?