Co-Pastor Steff Fenton (they, them)
Christian; Queer, Trans, Genderqueer; Pastor, writer, speaker, advocate, community builder, extrovert, beach-lover Counsellor
Through this portrait, we manage to capture a moment of vulnerability as Steff expresses the true meaning of what it means to bare one’s chest, to offer their own vulnerability as a gift for those who may still harm them or harm their LGBTIQA+ siblings. Whilst many parts of our society are overcoming their homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia and religious-phobia, it is often the LGBTIQA+ folks that pay the price for the redemption of society’s cisheterosexism and ongoing trauma caused by religion. Facing the brunt of these violences caused by minority stresses, micro and macro aggressions as well as still present prejudice, discrimination and abuse, LGBTIQA+ people of faith offer their lives, bodies, witness, resources, privacy to educate both the broader community, the religious as well as the non-religious LGBTIQA+ communities, serving themselves as bridges of understanding in liberating our communities from ignorance and prejudice. This portrait is a reminder of what sacred and prophetic love and hospitality our LGBTIQA+ siblings of faith are sharing with all peoples.
Standing in front of a passion- pink backdrop, with eyes closed with facial expression of total giving and vulnerability, Steff places their two hands on the left and right sides of their chest, as the unbuttoned shirt (with large flamingo and palm leaf prints) unveils a large part of their bare chest with evidence of their top-surgery.
Reflections from Steff:
“The way I encounter the divine presence in the world is when I experience love, health, well-being, justice, equality, community, connection, healing, life, light, authenticity, reconciliation, mutuality, kindness, generosity, peace and more. My faith is all about deep listening to the divine so I can cultivate this within myself and overflow that beauty into the world around me.”
"Mindfulness is my prayer practice - the practice of learning to breathe, reflect and respond with thoughtfulness, rather than react to a hard emotion or to act out of automatic responses that might feel familiar but are not promoting health, healing, love and connection.
Meeting with others in community - it is particularly in between people that I most clearly see something bigger than myself happening in the world. Our church community particularly are the people who embody divinity together, a metaphor we call ""The Body of Christ"" in the Christian tradition."
“When God comes into the world in human form, God comes with the message of an alternative "kingdom" or "reign". This "kingdom" has the qualities of the eternal God, who is believed to exist in the realm of the heavens. As the divine moves through the world, Jesus confronts kingdoms, empires and governments, to establish an alternative way of organising the world that is just, compassionate and seeks the benefit of others as for ourselves. The kingdom of heaven brings the divine life of God - healing, hope, full dignity, connectedness, love - to anyone who chooses to take hold and be part of it. Jesus invites us to share that good news with the rest of the world.”
“Listen. Listen. Listen to us. LGBTIQA+ people reveal diverse and beautiful aspects of God that have the power to heal the world. God confronts norms, challenges categories, and subverts the way things have always been done. LGBTIQA+ people reveal God by confronting social norms which can often restrict or harm people. The Church is hiding a divine gift under a bushel and they need to let it shine.”
Photographed by Andrew Ratter of Studio Commercial