A LESBIAN who says she was forced out of her church after holding hands with her fiancée two years ago is now being ordained as a minister.
Kersten Lawrence, nee Pegden, and her now-partner Nina were told their conduct was “overtly sexual” after they held hands during services at St Nicholas’ Anglican Church in Corfe Mullen.
The couple, who live in Parkstone, stopped attending services at the church after the incident, but Kersten is now to become a minister of the Open Episcopal Church on December 1.
Kersten, who entered into a civil partnership on Christmas Eve 2010 at Poole Guildhall, started attending services at St Nicholas in 2007 with her ex-husband.
“I came late to my faith,” she said.
“My late Godfather got me into it, but I’m not from a religious family, and I didn’t grow up with the church. But after I came to the church, my daughter joined the choir and my son was a server.”
She had been attending the church for four years before coming out in 2009 and splitting with her husband.
She met Nina later that year, and left St Nicholas in 2010 after being called for a meeting with the female vicar, who allegedly said the couple were “overtly sexual” with each other because they held hands.
Kersten said: “The Open Episcopal Church is accepting of anyone and everyone.
“They will ordain members of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community – everyone is welcome to the church. You don’t need to be confirmed or baptised. We practice old Catholic teachings without the persecution and the dogma of the Roman Catholic church.”
Kersten now works as a chaplain at Staddon Lodge Care Home in Branksome and Fernheath Play in Bournemouth. She will be attached to her church’s parish of St Julian and St Michael in Parkstone.
She also holds a monthly evening group in her home to talk about faith.
“Last time, the topic was forgiveness and giving,” she said.
“I have friends who don’t come to church but still come to those groups. Their opinion is always valued, and we don’t exclude anyone.”