One of the most prevalent statements by religious leaders in Africa when asked for the ways in which they deal with sexual minorities in their communities has been that "there are no homosexuals in their communities!" The existence of Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) is, therefore, particularly important in making the statement: "Not only are ‘homosexuals’ present in Africa, they are present in religious communities in Africa as well!" The existence of religious oriented LGBTI people is a reality. In that regard, we cannot help but agree with David Russell (2009:2) that "we are all called by the very nature of our humanity to work for a shared human community characterized by justice, equity and mutual caring." The concepts of equality, justice and mutual caring are, therefore, understood as being broader and richer than the limited ways in which some confine them to merely secular and legal concepts, IAM helps expand these concepts to speak to the African reality.
This study will briefly give a historical background to the founding and development of IAM, as a necessary setting up of a platform to carry out this study. An overview of the period under study, that is, 2009-2014, will also be sketched where interest would be to highlight the key events and tasks undertaken by IAM, in South Africa and in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), that is, in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and in East Africa, where focus will be on Kenya and Uganda. It is important in this section to show what has actually been happening. After this outline, the study will then prioritize the three aspects stated in the Terms of Reference, that is, the methodologies the stumbling blocks and the stepping stones. In other words, the central focus of this study revolves around the following questions: What methods and methodologies have been used by IAM in their programmes and projects? What challenges has IAM faced in carrying out its mandate since 2009? What things has IAM done or discovered that have or can work as possible steps towards achieving the goal of the acceptance of LGBTI persons in their respective communities religiously, socially, economically and politically? In answering these questions, this study did an intensive study of the written materials produced by IAM as well as interviews with IAM staffers.