For many members of the LGBTI community coming out left them ostracised from family members and their faith.
A new central Pride Hub in Ballarat is bringing members of the LGBTI community closer together than ever before and allowing them to practice their religion in a safe and welcoming space.
Outreach Ministry Australia Reverend Jim Reynolds runs the service once a fortnight at the newly established centre. The all-inclusive service invites people of all faiths and backgrounds to attend and gather together.
“For us, this program is about community. We assist everyone,” Reverend Reynolds said.
“This is the first church service that Outreach has started to run. Ballarat was crying out for a church that accepts everyone.”
Services will be run out of the hub, currently located at Trades Hall, connecting LGBTI people from all faiths to appropriate services.
“We are working with Muslims with Progressive Values and the Jewish community. We can easily make a phone call – this is not just for Christians. We want to reach out to everyone,” Reverend Reynolds said.
Pride hub founder Koby Bunney said the purpose of the hub was to create a central base where people could go and access information. He said the causal feel of the Pride Hub made it approachable and a safe place for all.
“Ballarat has created the first active pride centre and they are needed everywhere,” Mr Bunney said.
“This creates a place for the community to gather it and for LGBTI people community is the biggest asset.”
Mr Bunney said the creation of a church service could be life-changing for many LGBTI people of Christian or other faiths.
“This means I can worship god and do it in a way that I am accepted. I can be a gay man and attend church,” Mr Bunney said. The centre will be a central hub for services such as Equal Love Ballarat, Muscle Hearts Family Violence Support, support groups, education and training and other services.
Kirsten Holden said the hub filled a gap in support services for young LGBTI people in Ballarat.
“It was getting pretty desperate because there just isn’t anything for people in that age group in Ballarat,” she said. “We are trying to fill a gap in the best way we know how.