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8 June 2022
For over 30 years, Captain Colin Reynolds has been reaching out to diverse and marginalised communities.
Sunshine Salvos reach out to rainbow community
Words Simone Worthing
“Allies of the rainbow community” is how Captains Colin and Phuong Reynolds describe their outreach and ministry at Sunshine Salvos in Melbourne’s north-west.
Their ministry within the corps (church) and other Salvos services such as housing, youth and Employment Plus is intentionally focused on building an inclusive community of faith.
Captain Colin Reynolds attending the Midsumma March in Melbourne to support his community.
With the church, Colin said he and Phuong were committed to taking their faith community from a level of inclusion to a genuine level of affirmation for the people who come.
“We welcome anyone, and we accept anyone, but we want it to be more than that,” he said. “We want to say to people when they’re a part of us in our family, it’s who you are, how God made you fearfully and wonderfully, and that’s okay.
“You don’t have to change anything about who you are to be a part of our family. We accept you as you are. And it doesn’t matter how you identify, and it doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter what relationship you’re in or what that looks like. We accept you. And we love you. We affirm you. That’s our continual movement towards our people at Sunshine.”
As an example, Colin shares the story of Tiff, a young transgender man who attends Sunshine Salvos and has been befriended and supported by the church.
Tiff has found a place of acceptance and affirmation at Sunshine Salvos.
“I love journeying with friends like Tiff because they really do embody who we want to be as a faith community – as people who love, accept and affirm people for who they are. Our focal point is affirming anyone who comes in, especially from the LGBTIQA+ community. This is a lovely story, a story that is still in motion because it’s writing its own chapters day by day.”
Throughout the pandemic disruptions of 2020 and 2021, the church continued to run its community meal program on Friday nights. “We met a lot more new people than we’d ever met before,” Colin said. “We had floods of international students come to Sunshine Salvos. Tiff was one of those – a young guy from overseas who identifies as being transgender, although that didn’t come out right away.”
Over time, and talking with Tiff and building trust, a friendship developed. Tiff came to the meal each week, and the Salvos assisted him with food.
The ‘watershed moment’ came when Colin attended and marched in the Midsumma Festival (an LGBTIQA+ cultural festival in Melbourne).
“Who should I see there but Tiff!” said Colin. “I could see him thinking, ‘You are the leader of the Salvos church – what are you doing here?’ That was a real moment where trust was gained. Stones were rolled away, and we have grown in our relationship with Tiff. We are now supporting Tiff in the next steps of his journey, which involves following his dreams and surgically transitioning.He is fundraising for this and, personally, both Phuong and I are assisting him to do this, and encouraging the Sunshine Salvos to do the same.
“It’s a joy just to be on the journey alongside like-minded, like-hearted people. I am absolutely confident that we are heading in the right direction and that we are going to see good things happen in the days ahead."