GOD, indeed, does work in mysterious ways. What a neat trick this is: Reverend Jane Clarke, minister of Metropolitan Community Church in Glasgow, a church for the LGBTI community, was set on her path to the ministry by a group of anti-gay campaigners who knew not what they did.

But first, to set the scene. Raised in London by a Humanist father and Catholic mother, Rev Clarke was packed off to Sunday School in the Church of England as a child ("I was one of five children so I think my parents did it to get us out the house") and fell for the accoutrement of the high church's pomp and circumstance, if not for the meaning behind the services.

"I loved church, I loved the singing," Rev Clarke says. "I loved the ceremony, the processing out, I was in the choir so I had a ruff and little medallions. I'm not sure I had a really strong belief but I loved it."

However, the teenage Jane realised she was gay and things changed. "I was 16 when I began to come to terms with my sexuality," she says.

"I was 16 and I fell in love with a woman who was 15 and we started a relationship, which the church found really hard to deal with. It was a long time ago, if I can defend the church. So I left.

"And I have no regrets because I had fabulous teenage years, threw myself into LGBT politics and got myself involved in lots of wonderful things I'm sure most teenagers don't get to do."

In the background, Rev Clarke felt conflicted about having given up church and over the years she began to see meaning in everyday events, a quiet murmuring from God.

She said: "Around 24 I just felt that nagging call of God, that little niggle in the back of the head going, 'Church is there, you know'.

"And it was one of those things where I would walk past a church that had a poster outside that really spoke to me or a street pastor shouting into a microphone and, even if I didn't agree with what was being shouted, these were all these little hints from God."

One Easter, Palm Sunday, Rev Clarke decided to give church a try. She found the sermon spoke to her, she felt at home but still left during the final hymn to avoid speaking to anyone. The conflict was still there until a spiritual moment by the River Thames. "One day I went for a walk and sat down by the river and just went, 'Ok, God, I really feel you calling me. I will turn my back on everything, on LGBT politics and I will give my life to you and do whatever you want me to, I'll give it all up.'"

"And I swear I heard the voice of God say, 'I don't want you to give anything up, I just want you.' It was just floods of tears stuff. So I went back to the church the next week and stayed."

Her LGBTI friends were not wholly supportive. They told her LGBTI people don't go to church. They said that if she really must attend worship, Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) was the only acceptable one.

She said: "I said no. MCC will be gay men dressed up in fancy stuff and poncing about. But my friend dragged me along and I said, 'I'm not going in until I see women go in.'

"So I sat on a wall outside until I saw a group of women go in. And then when I got in there, they were not playing at church, these were serious people.

"It turned out all the women were heterosexual and believed homosexuality was a sin and so they would come and sit in the back row and pray for us. And I think that's wonderful because through them, I ended up at church." The Lord must like His little jokes.

MCC turned out to be a good fit, although it was early days for the church, which was founded in Los Angeles in the 1960s and now has more than 200 congregations worldwide. "I loved MCC. They were awful. They didn't know what they were doing. They were using inclusive language but all saying different things, some trying not to use gendered words. And I loved it and I stayed.

"They were real people dealing with real issues."

Rev Clarke attended MCC for three years, becoming a valued part of the congregation. So valued, in fact, that her fellow church-goers began to suggest she go in for ordained ministry. Her initial response was a consistent "no" but then she remembered her promise – "I'll do whatever you want." With that, the call from God was answered.

Rev Clarke says she purposefully chose a secular university, Greenwich University, at which to study because she wanted to learn to ask questions, rather than be in the more proscribed surroundings of a Bible college. Surprisingly, LGBTI issues were not a main focus of exploration during her studies – it was women's issues that she questioned and continued to question as she was ordained and as she took stewardship of MCC East London. The 54-year-old said: "If you start questioning the role of women in religion you start questioning everything. I was in a part of London that is 70 per cent not white but my church is all white. So what does the Bible say about race and colour?

"Imagine having a church that is not inclusive and that's not on purpose, it's just that we don't know we're excluding people."

The move to Glasgow came gradually. Rev Clarke and her wife Kate, from Edinburgh, had both attended a conference on church planting and began to think about where they could found a new MCC. On a trip to Glasgow Rev Clarke said she was "immediately in love" although Kate insisted they come back in winter before making any move. "We came back in January and it was sunny the whole week. A sign from God."

MCC Glasgow shares space with Ibrox Parish Church, to the south of the River Clyde. As their host church, MCC pays Ibrox Parish rent to use the hall for Sunday afternoon services. There is a congregation of around 40 people, gay, lesbian, transgender – all people who have felt isolated, or been isolated by, other churches. The services are purposefully inclusive – gluten free bread, non-alcoholic wine – and borrow from other denominations. There are modern hymns, call and response, the Lord's prayer and Bible readings.

In her sermon, Rev Clarke uses the phrase "Restore right relationships." But there are some religious people who would argue MCC is doing the opposite of that.

"There are some who are enthusiastic about an MCC coming to Glasgow and there are some who wish we weren't here," she says. "Some want to do outreach work to the LGBT community and we're stealing their sheep. Others would like to save us. But they generally leave us alone. We've not had antagonism from other churches.

"But why are we so important? I don't want to put my congregation down. Altogether there's 40 of us. We pray, we go on demonstrations, we love each other, we nurture each other, we fight for social justice, we fight for the green environment.

"What is it we're doing that is so offensive?"

Religion and sexuality are never easy bedfellows, just look at Tim Farron's stepping down as Lib Dem leader. Recently the Church of Scotland apologised for its past treatment of homosexual Christians.

Rev Clarke said: "Your relationship with God is your relationship with God. It's not anybody else's. What does God say to you in your heart and your prayers.

"God judges relationships on their quality and the quality of love in that relationship.

"If you told me that a relationship where one of the partners is abusive is better than mine because one of the partners is male and one of them female, I would really ask you which one of those relationships God is judging."

The couple have a foster daughter, the child of family members, and are devoted to her. "You can't tell me [Kate and I and our daughter] are not a brilliantly healthy family. Anybody who looked at that girl would see the difference in the four years she's been with us.

"She is in such a healthier environment than the one she was in and if anyone tried to say she was better off with her birth parents than with her two lesbian aunties, I'd like to see some evidence to back that up.

"And I mean evidence, don't just quote me Bible passages. Experience and empirical evidence please."

As for Tim Farron, Rev Clarke says she wants Christians in politics. "I want Christians who are into social justice and liberalism in politics.

"Who gives this 10 per cent of the population so much power that someone has to resign? If we're living an incompatible life, not as people of faith but as humans, then we're not actually living healthy lives because somewhere along the line we're denying something.

"I just don't understand how [Farron] can find Christianity incompatible with liberalism because to my mind that's the Sermon on the Mount.

"I think [his resignation] is distressing because I think we need people of faith in positions of power who can tell us why they have their faith. But people were on the side of LGBT rights and that is wonderful.

"Something I do absolutely love is when you have people with faith saying, 'My faith tells me this is wrong but the human rights of you as a created, beloved child of God tells me that actually it's right.'

"And I love that people can reconcile those things in them and he just couldn't. Shame."

For MCC, Rev Clarke wants the church to be a resource to other organisations, such as other churches and schools. Every year the congregation attends Pride ("We go in black and white and people say, 'Who's that in black and white? Oh no, it's the Christians.'") to spread the message of the church's inclusivity – and to say that being Christian can be fun.

She would like the church to expand, to change attitudes and to grow its environmental campaigning. "We have small ambitions," Rev Clarke says. "Just to change the world."

My Life

Best trait: Listening to people and believing everything they tell me. A "why would they lie" attitude?

Worst trait: Believing everything I'm told.

Last book read: The Gender Games by Juno Dawson (and Carrie's War with my nine-year-old)

Last film watched: was some rubbish on Netflix, I can't even remember the title. The last film I saw at the cinema was Lion (unless you count Minions – again with my nine-year-old)

Ideal dinner party guests: Margaret Mountford, my mate Rev Andy Braunston, Terry Pratchett and Germaine Greer. I'm not sure anyone would be talking to me afterwards but I'd have a great party.

Best advice received: "Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." Attributed to Mark Twain and passed on to me by my father, many years ago.