Martin Stears-Handscomb

Martin Stears-Handscomb is a lifelong Baptist and member of Tilehouse Street Baptist Church, Hitchin.  In 2007 he entered a civil partnership with Ian, a retired Baptist minister.  A retired teacher, he currently manages an accountancy office.  In his spare time, as well as contributing to Affirming Baptists, he led the group which founded the successful Black Squirrel Credit Union, of which he continues to be President, now more than ten years old with over 1,200 members.

“At an LGCM annual meeting I met up with other Baptists and we decided that we needed a caucus for Baptist gay Christians which was the root of the group name called Affirm. So, in 2000 we called a meeting of Baptists who were willing to support a new organisation of Baptists affirming lesbian and gay Christians. We’d met…a group of Baptist ministers who had written in the Baptist Times that they wanted to support lesbian and gay Baptists and the two groups…got together and formed what now has become Affirm.”

“[LGBT people want] the same sort of moral compass that everyone needs to help them move to be the best that we can be through our lives and that’s just as true for gay people as straight people or, to put it another way, as Paul says ‘It’s better to marry than to burn with passion.’ And that’s why I think that gay people getting married is a darn good idea if that’s the right thing for them, but it’s not compulsory.”

“The thing that came out to me most, I suppose, as I’ve gone through this journey is that if the issue in the Church [was] racism you’d be able to look around and see black people. But the issue is one of sexuality, you look around and you see nothing. We’re invisible…and because we’re invisible, when people in the Church are faced with the idea of accepting LGBT people, they don’t know what they’re looking for.”

You can listen to Martin’s interview here.