It was meant to be another case of the LGBT community extending a generous welcome to Mr McIlveen of Sandown Free Presbyterian Congregation this evening. When we all gathered in the Europa Hotel this evening we were told, to our surprise, that Mr McIlveen was not coming. Later on, we were informed that a Lay Reader from the Church of Ireland was stepping up to the mark as a substitute. Mr Dermot O’Callaghan is well known to me – for he and I had discussed the issue of homosexuality quite some years back over lunch (a fact that he referred to in his closing remarks!) – but he only stepped in as he arrived for the debate this evening. The organisers had apparently tried 62 other people all day to get a speaker in place of David McIlveen.
Not one of those 62 would come and take his place. Were they fearful? Were they unwilling to defend their principles? It would be interesting to know who thee 62 are? Anyone going to name names?
Why wasn’t McIlveen there?
The reason given was that there was
an issue in his church
As I said earlier this evening in a tweet, I wonder what that issue is. Is it that Mr McIlveen is seen to be getting too close to those in the LGBT community? Is it that it was thought that by coming to an LGBT event, Mr McIlveen was being too liberal?
Perhaps it was even that as Jim Wells MLA had said that he would not be attending an event on Monday, Mr McIlveen felt the need to be similar in his attitude. It is a great pity that the Free Presbyterian minister did not attend. Those who did were heard respectfully. Although most of the audience did not seem to agree with Mike Davidson of Core Issues, he was at least allowed to put forward his views.
Blazing but Green
The young men and women of GLYNI who put on tonight’s event ‘Hymn or Us’ should be congratulated on an excellent event, which I had feared would be a bit of a battleground. It wasn’t. We will never know if this is due to the absence of Mr McIlveen. The event was one which had a blaze about it – shining in the darkness but full of vitality and life, somewhat reminiscent of the motto of some Presbyterian churches in Ireland: Ardens sed Virens.
And on Saturday…
Now don’t forget that there is a service of thanksgiving at the corner of Waring Street and North Street in Belfast at 1.00 pm, as part of the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. Perhaps we should all go?
Or perhaps we should just head round to Custom House Square for the biggest free LGBT party in Ireland and get ready for the Belfast Pride Parade 2011. I’ll be in the square, but probably not on the Parade itself. Apparently, I have another job to do…