This is an exciting time for Inclusive Church. Women Bishops is receiving huge support from the Dioceses, and although we could still fall at the final hurdle, it appears that a large majority of the Church are in favour.
It is also exciting because religious buildings are now legally permitted to host civil partnerships, and although the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England have opted out (shame on us) one of our next major campaigns is presenting itself to us. (It’s time to write to your Bishop, Archdeacon and Diocesan registrar to express your church’s desire to conduct civil partnerships in your building for the sake of the congregations’ growth in faith and mission to your parish.)
Finally, on a more personal level, it is an exciting time because the Inclusive Church Conference is only a few days away! The quality of the speakers will leave you with months’ worth of food for thought; the worship will uplift you, and give you ideas and resources to enrich your church life; the sense of solidarity will give you strength and hope to go out and face the exclusive attitudes that many of us have to encounter regularly … Oh, and there’s a bar, and lots of good people to enjoy it with …
We had overwhelming positive feedback from the last Conference, and this one promises to be even better.
Trevor Donnelly The Church of the Ascension
From the National Coordinator
The Inclusive Church conference in November will mark an anniversary for me – a year since I interviewed for the post as National Coordinator with Inclusive Church. Reflecting on a year, what are the highlights? For me personally this has meant a radical change in my life and lifestyle. Having been in full-time parish ministry for almost 30 years, I have had to learn about working in a new environment, not living in clergy housing, and how to be priest in a new way. Perhaps the most significant change for me is that for the first time in those 30 years I can be open about my personal life in a way that I have not been able to in parish ministry. I empathise fully with clergy in ministry who have to hide the truth about their sexuality for fear of being ��
One of the many privileges of being National Coordinator with Inclusive Church is to have the opportunity to hear the stories by men and women for whom the church is a hard and excluding place to be. I have heard people speak to me of a church that does not want them because they are living with mental illness, or because they are gay. People talk of how hard it is to be part of the church if the colour of your skin is different. Inclusive Church has moved positively to seek to address issues of inclusion from a wide standpoint. In the face of central church and diocesan budget cuts it is even more important for Inclusive Church to ensure that this agenda is kept to the fore, and to speak for the marginalised.
Vital to all of this are the registered Inclusive Churches in different parts of the country. These are often places that demonstrate good practice in being welcoming and inclusive, where risks are taken in welcoming those who other churches may well reject. I would encourage all of our inclusive churches to regularly review what it means to be inclusive in their context and for their congregation. I am more than happy to spend time with congregations and PCC’s to do this work. This might be to come and preach maybe on a Sunday or be part of a Parish Weekend, an away day or retreat. I am also keen to spread the network of Inclusive Churches. We get calls each week asking us to help find an inclusive church near them Often we struggle to find a church less than 100 miles from where someone is living. If you are one of registered churches – why not encourage neighbouring churches in your deanery or diocese to register as well Why not work with me to
As I highlighted in the last e-newsletter we currently have no registered Inclusive Churches in these dioceses: Salisbury, Truro, Gloucester, Chelmsford, Norwich, Peterborough, Coventry, Hereford, Leicester, Lichfield, Derby, Liverpool, Blackburn, York, Carlisle or Europe. If you are in one of these dioceses and would like register with us – please get in touch.
2012 looks to be a really important year as we look forward to the progression in synod of legislation about women bishops and we continue to work on civil partnership ceremonies in church, as we work on the national consultation about gay marriage, as well as the consultation with the House of Bishops on Human Sexuality. With LGB&T Pride in July, Greenbelt in August and a conference in October on disability & theology – there’s quite a lot going on! As I reflect on a year – I am really glad I applied for this job!
Bob Callaghan. National Coordinator
‘Inclusive Church’ is the main body in the Church of England that is working for changes in the attitudes of the rank and file of the Church of England towards the inclusion of the LGBT community as fellow members of the body of Christ.
Since its inception, this organisation has helped in the emancipation of those Anglicans who happen to be intrinsically different, in sexual disposition, from the traditional understanding of heterosexual exclusivity in personal relationships.
Great advances have been made since the days of homophobia and misogyny that formerly existed as society’s prevalent attitude towards the LGBT community – usually based on what was thought to be an overall biblical prohibition of any sexual activity that did not engage in intentional procreation – an opinion once aided and abetted by the mainline Churches.
This has caused a great deal of difficulty for those who, in Church ministry, have found themselves to be intrinsically ‘Gay’, leading to a life of hiddenness about their basic human sexual responses – which have either been clandestinely acted upon – with the necessity of living a ‘double-life – with all that means in terms of the ‘attendant harm done to one’s personal, spiritual integrity – or suppressed altogether, which can cause untold harm in a person struggling with the potent reality of their sexual identity.
It is with the intention of releasing intrinsically Gay Christians from the terrible fear of being ‘different’ from other human beings – in terms of their innate sexual integrity – that organisations like ‘Inclusive church’ have taken on the task of battling for those people whose way of life is influenced by their need for recognition as fellow children of an infinitely loving God .
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand