The Team

Martin Stears-Handscomb: Joint co-ordinator

Martin Stears-Handscomb is a lifelong Baptist and member of Tilehouse Street Baptist Church, Hitchin. In 2007 he entered a civil partnership with Ian, a retired Baptist minister. A retired teacher, local Councillor and lay preacher, he is available to speak and share his story. As well as contributing to Affirm, he led the group which founded the successful Black Squirrel Credit Union, of which he continues to be President, now more than fifteen years old with nearly 1,000 members.


Avril MacKenzie-Parr: Joint co-ordinator
Avril Mackenzie-Parr is a lifelong Baptist and serves on the Leadership Team of One Church Brighton, a new Baptist church that was formed in 2011 by the coming together of two baptist churches in Brighton in order to realise a new vision for the city of Brighton and Hove. She is head of politics at a local sixth-form college, and is married to Nerina, her partner since 2007.


Luke Dowding: Joint Director and Trustee 

Luke has a degree in Theology from Spurgeon’s College and is completing his Masters in Biblical Studies at King’s College, part time. A Deacon at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, Stonewall School and Faith Role Model and pioneer of LGBT+ inclusion within the Baptist Union of Great Britain. He is also Co-Founder of @sohogathering, an inclusive fellowship for those marginalised within the Church because of their sexuality or gender identity. Luke is a fervent campaigner and fundraiser for LGBT+ rights in Albania, believing that at the core of Christian identity is the inclusion of the marginalised regardless of their beliefs or orientation. He recently married Steven, the first same-sex marriage to be held at Bloomsbury Central Baptist and one of the first within the wider Baptist Union of Great Britain.

Dawn Savidge: Joint Director and Trustee





Ian Stears-Handscomb: Membership & Pastoral Support





Andy Long: Website manager and Trustee

Andy is from South Wales and has been part of the Baptist church for almost all of his life. Over the past few years Andy and his wife Jackie have been working for LGBT+ inclusion and equality within the Baptist church and the church as a whole in the UK. Andy manages the content of this site and would welcome your thoughts through the contact page.


Jeremy Marks: Pastoral Advisor
In 1988, Jeremy Marks founded Courage UK, which became one of the leading Christian ministries in the UK for lesbian & gay people. Twelve years later, he startled the evangelical world by publicly embracing a fundamentally gay-affirming approach, after recognising the despair that had resulted for many sincere Christian folk who tried the ‘ex-gay’ approach. Although Courage officially finished in 2012, Jeremy continues working post-Courage, providing pastoral care, spiritual direction, speaking engagements, and writing. Courage’s activities (group meetings etc) are now being continued by a new ministry, the Two:23 Network.