BLACKROCK, Ireland — On a cold, damp March afternoon, a bright orange door sat open, welcoming passers-by to the Methodist church in suburban Dublin.

But Urban Junction, as the building is called, wasn’t being used for a Methodist service. A handful of people were filtering into the church, located at 42 Main St., Blackrock, County Dublin.

Inside and down a gentle ramp, roughly a dozen people had gathered around a lectern with a pride flag, a rainbow complete with intersectional black and brown stripes, trans colors and the distinctive purple circle over a yellow field marking intersex identity. It was the March meeting of Amach le Dia, an LGBTQ+ affirming Christian worship service.

Amach le Dia, Irish for “out with God,” bills itself as the only active queer-affirming Christian worship group in the Republic of Ireland. In a country that was once deeply religious but has seen a rapid decline in church attendance that has coincided with a fast-paced liberalization of society, Amach le Dia serves as something of a sanctuary for a small but devout cluster of queer Christians and their families.

Meeting in a well-lit church basement about the size of a tennis court, Amach le Dia’s worship space recalled the humble simplicity of some Protestant worship services. In the corner, a bearded man with long, brown hair and an acoustic guitar tuned his instrument.

Despite appearances, organizers said this was not a service restricted to any one faith or denomination — anyone was welcome, Protestant, Catholic, non-Christian, atheist, agnostic or curious.

Bustling about the basement, Alison Finch, a 46-year-old veterinary nurse with short hair and a kind smile, was overseeing the preparations. Seeming to recognize most people who entered, she offered tea and coffee with determination.

“Our aim really is to provide a space for Christians who are, you know, LGBT and maybe feel they don’t have anywhere they can be open and worship,” she said.

Finch, who is gay, was a founding member of Amach le Dia in 2019. Born to a Protestant Church of Ireland family, she said she first found queer Christian ministry around 2005.

That’s when she began attending services at Multyfarnham, where a Franciscan friary had begun a service for gay Christians. Then, there was the “All are Welcome” Mass, a Catholic service in Dublin which ran during the 2010s.

With little institutional support, both of these services fizzled out over time. By 2019, Finch realized there was no active worship service left.

“I sort of realized there was nothing going on in Ireland at the minute for LGBT Christians,” she said. “I thought, ‘well, there’s nothing going on. Maybe it’s my turn to, you know, start something.’”

After getting in touch with some of her fellow LGBT Christians, she helped found Amach le Dia by December 2019.

Since then, the group has been hosting monthly meetings and Bible studies, often with guest speakers and songs. Now, she says the organization is meant “to provide a safe space for LGBT people who have felt, you know, they don’t want to go to church.” The space provides her and others like her a place to blend these two parts of their identities.

“Many people believe it’s a surprising mix, they believe people would have to choose between the two,” she said. “For me this has never crossed my mind. I have always known God made me the way I am [and] loves me the way He created me.”

In the corner of the room, the man strummed his guitar with feeling and led the congregation in song. Many joined him in the gentle hymns, the lyrics projected on the wall.

Looking around to her fellow worshippers in the basement, Finch wasn’t sure what had brought each of them there. She said that, of course, the organization catered to gay and trans people, and to people from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds, but did not make it her business to know people’s personal history.

“The honest truth is, I don’t know because I never ask,” she said. “I don’t really know what people are. Anybody can come and we don’t ask you when you come in the door, ‘why are you here?’”

Teagan MacAodhagáin, a father, chatted by his family of young children, sprawled on a couch that had been pulled around to make a more comfortable pew than the metal folding chairs that lined the room.

MacAodhagáin, who chairs Amach le Dia and holds a master’s degree in theology, frequently leads the group’s services.

“In mainstream churches… you were allowed to do certain things like, move furniture and make tea,” he said. “Depending on the church, maybe Sunday school, maybe some worship, be in the worship band somewhere, and, you know, not everyone is gifted at tea or music.”

As a practicing Methodist, MacAodhagáin said Amach le Dia reflected the ideas of his religion more closely than his mainstream Protestant church. Citing John Wesley, the English cleric who founded Methodism, he said the Church was “handicapping itself” by limiting LGBT participation in services.

“Wesley had the same idea,” he said. “His criteria for people belonging to the church is that they all had to use their gifts, and there was no limitations.”

The United Methodist Church, one of the largest international Methodist groups, voted to remove its ban on gay marriage in May. But the Irish Methodist Church operates independently and still maintains that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The lights dimmed and a projector displayed more soft Christian rock lyrics over a stock image of a galaxy. MacAodhagáin made his way to the front of the room. The service started late, which Finch said was typical.

He introduced Jude Lal Fernando, one of his professors from Trinity College’s theology school, as the guest speaker for the service. Fernando spoke on how power and powerlessness feed conflict everywhere from his native Sri Lanka, to Ireland, to Israel and Palestine. The toddlers on the sofa struggled to sit quietly, just like millions of Christian children before them, as the service proceeded in a warm, orange light.

Following the speech, the guitarist struck passionate, saccharine chords, belting out slow tunes of modern worship. Sitting on the basement floor, Finch joined in song with closed eyes.