Four years ago, a 14-year-old in Britain was found hanged after allegedly reporting to friends that she was afraid she wouldn’t be accepted by her church or her parents for exploring her sexuality. Manchester Evening News reports that the girl, Lizzie Lowe, had been questioning whether or not she was a lesbian. Apparently, the girl was found dead when a search ensued after she sent her last text message to a friend, which ended — “…stay strong. I am sorry.”
In the years following Lizzie’s untimely death, it’s reported that her church, St. James and Emmanuel, in Didsbury, England, has adopted an inclusive policy for members of any sexual orientation. While the church claims that it never shunned people of LGBTQ status in the past, it also did not take an active role in supporting those members of its community. Rector Nick Bundog reportedly weighed in on the matter, Manchester Evening News details.
“I felt, wrongly, it was better not to stir up a hornet’s nest about sexuality. If we don’t talk about it, people can have their progressive or traditional views and that’s fine and we won’t do anything to upset the apple cart, we won’t talk about it,” Bundog said of the church’s past policy.
Since Lizzie’s death, her church has apparently begun practicing proactive actions such as singing songs and saying special prayers in support of those in same-sex marriages. The creation of a Youth Cafe was also implemented, where 200 young people can talk about any issues or worries in a “safe environment,” Manchester Evening News relays. Apparently, the church even offered to host the first annual Didsbury Pride Event this year.
“I wish we could turn the clock back… We had to change. We had to make sure this never happens to anyone else,” Bundog said.
It shouldn't take a 14-year-old to take her own life for change like this to happen.— Quentin Fottrell (@Quantanamo) September 24, 2018
Lizzie Lowe killed herself thinking the church wouldn’t accept she was gay.https://t.co/X9TCl3sujd
Not everyone in the church supports the new policy, however. It was noted that 25 congregation members voiced their disagreement with the policy, and apparently, some have spread negative comments on social media.
Church Times reported in June that the clergy created a two-part video series, Beyond Inclusion, discussing its changing views and practices. The goal of these videos was to encourage other churches to adopt more inclusive policies in order to avoid future events like this from happening. The interviewer in one of the videos is a gay pastor, Reverend John Bell, who discusses his story of coming out as gay to the church. Reverend Bundog also states that St. James and Emmanuel Churches took their lead from Inclusive Church, a charity organization that promotes inclusion for everybody, regardless of their orientation or identity.
Tonight, BBC Inside Out North West will air a special at 7 p.m. on the suicide of Lizzie Lowe — and her church’s response to the event. The special will tell the story of Lizzie as well as her church, taking the time to explore her parents’ participation in the church’s changes.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.