Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) has a vision of faith communities in Africa that are welcoming and affirming; where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people can participate fully and be strengthened in their spiritual, psychological and sexual identity as human beings. IAM works towards this vision through programs that support and empower the LGBTI community, parents, family and friends (PFF) and people living with Hiv Aids (PLHIV) to stimulate dialogue in building welcoming, affirming and inclusive faith communities.
STATEMENT OF CONVICTION
IAM believe that:
- there is integrity in being both Christian and LGBTI.
- we are called by God to express our sexuality in loving, faithful & committed relationships.
- same-sex orientation is a God-given reality for a large minority of people, not a sin or sickness.
- our lives offer evidence of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and that our present experience requires a re-evaluation the traditional interpretations of the Scriptures and tradition.
- in order to be true to the Gospel, the Church must include & affirm LGBTI Christians.
- in the power of dialogue as a process that can be life changing for the Church.
How IAM was founded:
IAM was founded in 1995 in Cape Town and has gained national and international recognition for its work in the fight against discrimination of gay and lesbian people.
IAM is the only organisation in Southern Africa that officially targets the religious leaders of the mainline church communities – especially those that still adhere to patriarchal and fundamentalist values.
We also partner with organisations and churches in the rest of Africa in creating dialogue.
Our successes as organisation lie in the multitude of stories of LGBTI individuals and their parents who found new life and liberation through IAM’s work. It is also to be found in the stories of clergy and fellow believers who were touched by the life stories of gay and lesbian individuals; or in publications and through DVDs.
In the first few years of the organisation’s pioneer phase, activities were directed towards getting the sexual orientation matter on the table of most mainline faith communities: creating a network of open-minded clergy; addressing more than hundred congregations and forming study groups focusing on the authority of scripture and homosexuality; making way into the ad hoc committee on homosexuality of the Dutch Reformed Church and the Anglican Theological Committee; hosting conferences; giving counselling and writing articles and brochures.
When Judith Kotzé was appointed in 2001, she brought with her the skill to use dialogue as the preferred change agent of the organisation. Internally, it was decided to no longer participate in the battlefield of debate with faith communities, but to rather lead in creating awareness through using dialogue as the modus operandi of IAM.
Changing attitudes and belief systems is a very slow and difficult process. Also, it is challenging to translate IAM’s achievements and successes into statistics.