FLAGS raised in support of LGBT people at St James’s, West Hampstead, in London, have been torn down twice in the space of two weeks.
The Vicar of St Mary’s with All Souls’, Kilburn, and St James’s, West Hampstead, the Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain, has also received a letter that has been passed to the police.
Fr Foreshew-Cain started flying a rainbow flag in support of the LGBT community two years ago. He added a flag that expresses support for the transgender community in March, when several transgender people joined the congregation. He discovered that the flags had been taken down, overnight, on 3 October. The ropes had been cut and the flags taken away.
They were put back in place last Friday, with the help of the London Fire Brigade. The MP for West Hampstead, Tulip Siddiq, attended in support.
The flags were taken down again on Saturday evening. Metal piping put in place to protect the ropes was ripped from the church wall, but the ropes remained in place; when Fr Foreshew-Cain arrived on Sunday morning, he was able to re-secure them and re-fly the flags, at a much greater height.
He has also, he reports, been subjected to “verbal abuse” after wearing a Pride lapel-pin as well as his clerical collar, and received a signed letter of “vile homophobic abuse from a fellow Christian”. He has contacted the police about these incidents.
A new monthly service, Open Table London, was launched at St James’s on Sunday. The vicar described it as “a place where LGBTQIA people can meet, pray, and provide support and encouragement.” He is seeking clarification from the diocese of London about whether it can be recognised as one of the 100 new worshipping communities envisaged in Capital 2020, the diocese’s vision for mission.
A fund-raising appeal in aid of Inclusive Church, started by Nic Tall, a supporter in Somerset who sought to express solidarity with the church in the wake of the flag incidents, has raised almost £300.