The European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups’ second Mentoring Programme got off to a very good start with an initial meeting in Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia, on 2-4 February 2018. Eighteen participants (nine mentors, nine mentees) and three organisers gathered together among picturesque mountains and age-old monasteries, officially commencing the second round of the Mentoring Programme, which will run for 1.5 years until May 2019. The LGBT Christian activists involved in the Programme are paired into tandems and come from different parts of Europe: Russia, Estonia, Poland, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, Armenia, and Switzerland.
There were several special workshops to find common ground for further work: Queer Bible study about the Joseph story; intercultural communication regarding stereotypes and how to handle them; tandems’ time to elaborate; and tandem vision and tasks to work on. The working day ended with worship, prepared by the participants. One day was given for city tours of Mtskheta and Tbilisi, for meeting with Georgian LGBT activists, and for a traditional farewell dinner.
Positive Feedback from Participants
“Meeting the group of the European Forum Mentoring Programme for the first time was one of the most inspiring events in my life. I am confident this program will not just be mentoring Eastern European activist, but a mutual inspiring year and a half for all. For me the dedication and determination of the activists from Eastern Europe was really moving and it makes me more determined to continue our work in Western Europe. This program is a great opportunity to feel that we are not alone, but that we all work for a Europe that is a great place to live in all its diversity.”
Kees, mentor, the Netherlands
“The first meeting of the Mentoring Programme in Tbilisi was a kaleidoscope of meaningful conversations and city walks, creative, spirit-filled worship, and Georgian hospitality, set against the backdrop of a beautiful, ancient centre of Christianity. It was good to find ourselves in the midst of an echo of the European and EECA Forum conferences, with many familiar faces and a shared cause. The sessions were carefully planned to provide all-around support for the 17-month-long journey of mutual learning that we are embarking on.”
Julie, mentee, Russia
About the Mentoring Programme
The Mentoring Programme has the purpose of strengthening European LGBT Christian activists or group leaders through regular contacts and exchange of experience. There are tandems within the programme: mentor and mentee are supposed to work together on group dynamics and leadership, pastoral care, theology and faith, social pressure and activities to address public opinion, the general political situation from the perspective of an LGBT Christian group or anything else that is important to both partners in the pair. The programme includes three group meetings, mentor-mentee visits and monthly Skype sessions.
The previous round of the Programme developed many new leaders for the LGBT Christian movement across Europe.