Who are we?
With due acknowledge to Dr Irene Ayallo (2020) ARCC Pastoral Care and Support Needs Assessment Report
Our community dates from the 1970s and was originally a bible study group of about 15-25 members that met for regular worship (Sunday at 7.30pm at St Matthew in the City), providing a safe space to explore faith and sexuality. Particularly those who faced barriers to accessing places of worship due to fear of being rejected and not being accepted by faith communities.
Nowadays we are a community of diverse sexualities and gender identities. Everyone is lovingly accepted. Membership is quite diverse, including gay men, lesbians, straight people, people with disabilities, people dealing with mental health issues, and people dealing with addictions. It is a mixed community with a range of ethnicities, age groups, walks-of-life, and people of wide spectrum of Christian and gay experience (such as those who are just coming out, transitioning, exploring their sexuality or their faith).
Additionally, the membership consists of both regular (those who live in Aotearoa mainly Auckland and attend worship on a regular basis) and impermanent members. Some tertiary students who are looking for a safe place to explore issues of faith and sexuality during the period of their studies often choose to come to ARCC. There are many who still do not feel welcomed and/or affirmed in their wider churches, and therefore feel safer engaging with our community.
For some of us ARCC is our primary worship community, but others are members of other churches and ARCC is a secondary worship community.
In addition to our regular Sunday evening service, we run a fortnightly discussion group (Manaaki), have a Facebook page, occasional social meals and movie nights. From time-to-time we run retreats for members and participate in wider community events. For instance, we participate in various Pride events, such as the Pride parade, hosting a tent at the Big Gay Out (BGO) and hosting a ‘Thank God for Pride’ service. We also mark significant days such as hosting AIDs memorial every May.
ARCC members are also politically active. For instance, members often submit written and oral submissions to parliamentary committees mostly on issues affecting the wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ people. Most recently, members made submissions on human rights, civil unions, and marriage equality.
Connecting humanity and divinity
ARCC continues to provide a safe haven for people experiencing prejudice. It continues to be a place where many begin and sustain the experience of integrating faith and sexual orientation, spirituality and sexuality, and the connection between their humanity and their divinity