One of the Church of England’s most influential evangelical campaigners, who for years believed it was impossible to be both gay and a Christian, has declared that “God is a God of surprises” as she came out as a lesbian.
As a member of the Archbishops’ Council between 1999 and 2004, Jayne Ozanne held what she called “extremely black and white” views on sexuality and “did not believe it was compatible to be gay and a Christian”.
But yesterday she came out as gay, and was announced as the new director of Accepting Evangelicals, a Christian group aiming to promote “acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships”.
In an interview with Christian Today, she said: “God is a God of surprises. We can never be sure of what the future may bring, but what I do know is that He will always look to transform our darkest hours into something beautiful.”
Speaking of her struggle to reconcile her sexuality with her previous beliefs, Ms Ozanne, 46, said that during her years on the Archbishops’ Council she prayed for “the grace” to be celibate. She managed to avoid sexual relationships, she said.
Ms Ozanne, who has been an active lay-leader in evangelical churches, also described how she subjected herself to bouts of “deliverance ministry”, where clergy and ministers tried to “cast out” a sexual orientation regarded by some as demonic. Ms Ozanne said: “It was like trying to cast out myself from myself. Nothing was going to budge.” Such experiences, she added, left her feeling “like there was something terribly wrong with me.”
In 2009, Ms Ozanne came out privately to a small group of friends, family and church leaders. Although currently single, Ms Ozanne said she had enjoyed a five year relationship with a woman. “I fell madly in love, and I started a relationship with a wonderful woman. I believe that was God-given in so many ways,” she said yesterday.
She added that having once felt “as if I was the only gay evangelical woman in the world,” she has now met many women like her and believes: “It is the evangelical church more than any that needs to learn how to hear and embrace each other.”Reuse content