Open Table Network (OTN), a Liverpool-founded partnership of church communities hosted by and for LGBT+ people, has been awarded charitable status.
The first OTN community began 13 years ago because many church congregations do not offer a kind or an honest welcome to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA).
From a gathering of just six people at St Bride’s Church, Liverpool, in 2008, it became a network in 2015 when other churches asked for help to create safe spaces where LGBT+ people, their families and friends could feel welcomed and affirmed. The network adopted the slogan ‘Come As You Are’ to reflect its approach and ethos.
There are now 18 OTN communities, which support hundreds of people a month in England and Wales and the network continues to grow. Its seven patrons are said to be delighted by the organisation’s new charitable status, including the Right Reverend Paul Bayes, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, Co-Chair of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives and LCR Pride Foundation Patron.
The name Open Table emphasises the welcome of each unique, self-governing, non-judgemental community. It is a sign of OTN’s commitment to make everyone ‘more than welcome’.
The Right Reverend Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, said: “We talk a lot about love and inclusion, but what matters most is that people should know what it feels like. It feels like people together. It feels like love and friendship shared. It feels like Open Table.”
Open Table communities typically meet monthly, within respectful, loving and safeguarding guidelines, welcoming people from any faith who need a spiritual home.