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Best of 2012: Feminists and gay Christians who accept the Church

  • 07 January 2013

'Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,' says Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew. Look at what these words say to his followers.

You don't need a crowd, just two or three. 'Gathered in my name', not 'gathered in a church' or 'at a certain time or place', but simply 'in my name': that is, two or three, with Christ as the common centre of their faith, gathered to pray and praise God. 'There am I among them.' This is an affirmative statement. It's a positive statement. It is a statement of assurance. It is a statement made with no other qualifications.

Throughout history, this radical idea, that all you needed to form a Christian community is two or three people gathered in the name of Christ, has kept the Christian faith alive in the hearts of believers.

Think of the early Christian community in the first three centuries, threatened by a lack of religious freedom in the Roman Empire and a ban on public church buildings. Think of the persecution of Christians, and especially Catholics, in countries like Poland under communism.

Look at the growing house church movement in China — a country that is on track to become the biggest Christian nation on earth, and you can see that a community doesn't need a building or clergy or a large number of people to be a Christian community. Just two or three people gathered in Jesus' name.

For 40 years, people have been gathering to celebrate their Catholic faith under the name Acceptance. At first they met in people's homes. Later they met in halls, sometimes provided by other faith congregations: the Uniting Church, the Unitarian Church. They celebrated Mass. They put their faith into action by supporting good works in the community. They supported one another, prayed for one another, and grew in their faith together.

In the 1980s Acceptance moved physically closer to the Catholic Church, celebrating Mass at a hall next to St Canice's, Elizabeth Bay. Finally in 1990 Acceptance members gathered for the first time in a Catholic Church, at St Canice's, to celebrate Mass. Today, they gather at St Joseph's Newtown. They