pic Sparrow was a gay/lesbian christian group, which met every Wednesday night in several locations over the years, for a dozen or twenty attendees.

Sparrow was founded by Anglican priest Fr. BobPetite and Fr. MikeMacDonald, a Roman Catholic Holy Cross Father, in the early 1970's while Bob was chaplain at Dalhousie University and the University of King's College. Fr. Mike was at the time Director of Hope Cottage on Brunswick St. The group began having meetings at Dalhousie. When Bob eventually moved to be the Rector of the parish of Antigonish, Fr. Mike continued to sponsor meetings. The group continued for many years and Bob became a regular member again when he returned to Halifax to be the Rector of St. George's Round Church on Brunswick St. in 1980. Many of the members at that time were associated with StJohnsUnitedChurch on Windsor St.1


Organizers / Clergy

Other Sparrow mainstays were ChuckBaker?, HaroldDurnford?, ChristopherBowen?; Sandra ??? and her daughter Elizabeth.

picDecember 1987

TerryParker writes on December 14, 2010: I believe the order was called “The Priests of the Sacred Heart. I believe Father Mike MacDonald? was the or one of the founders of Sparrow. Members were also Baptist and Seventh-day Adventist. I don’t recall there being any connection to AST or St. John’s.

My understanding is that Father Mike started the group and it originally met at Hope Cottage, then Edwards St, and later in the chapel of StJohnsUnitedChurch.

PeterRoss? was a name also involved with Sparrow at one time, and NormanMoulton?, BrianMombourquette, and NelsonHubley.

BrianMombourquette writes September 5, 2012: Sparrow continued to meet for a number of years, and played a role in local Christian churches' struggles and discussions of queer life within the church, including the SOLM (Sexual Orientation, Lifestyles and Ministry) study by the United Church, and challenging the heirarchy's understanding of Christain values, including inviting Bishop Hayes to their retreat weekend held at St Peter's church in Dartmouth.

Weekly Sparrow meetings were moved from the Edwards Street location to the UniversalistUnitarianChurch's upper room (as members enjoyed pointing out - the disciples of Jesus met in an upper room for the last supper) around 1983 and were there for several years, before moving to the basement of St. John's United Church on Windsor Street. It was at this last location that the group began to fracture, and support fell away significantly. [HistoryProjectTodoList: more information needed for the final period.]

The appearance of Safe Harbour MCC on the scene in the early '90s subsequently filled much of the demand for a Christian support group, but Sparrow is remembered fondly by those who once attended 'religiously'.

RobinMetcalfe writes: Ken was a very active member; I believe a founding member. I would have attended some Sparrow events as his partner, although I was never personally involved. Sparrow was very broadly ecumenical, and open even to non-Christians, I believe.

Ken and Archbishop Jim Hayes were very close for a time, and we once travelled together to an event in Sackville, NB. I wrote about that trip in an essay, The Cross and the Triangle, which was published in a Canadian magazine and also translated into Swedish for Revolt, the gay magazine in Stockholm.4

BillElliott writes: It was like a gathering of love. when I first went to Sparrow, I was starting to come out and didn't know anyone. I had met KenBelanger for counselling, and he invited me to a meeting in a house on Edwards Street. There I was introduced to NormanMoulton?, HeatherBurke?, and LouisCaissie. Ken was there playing a guitar, and that's where I first learned the word "agape." It was a warm welcoming. I don't know what I would have done without Sparrow.

This page is part of ReligiousGroups and the HistoryProject.

Tags: NeedsResearchCategory; specifically, we need some research and rationalization of the different tellings of the origins.


1. BobPetite, January 29, 2012
4. April 19, 2018 Corr w/Dan MacKay?