We joined the Inclusive Church network in 2016 as a means by which we might actively promote a church community where everyone feels able to belong and participate. However, joining the network and getting the logo was only just the beginning. As with our religious rituals, the outward display of faith needs to be translated into an inward journey of the heart and then out again in practical action. We are work in progress and welcome anyone who wishes to journey with us.
What is Inclusive Church?
Inclusive Church is an educational charity founded in 2003. As an umbrella organisation, Inclusive Church Network seeks to offer support and guidance to churches and individuals who share the statement of belief set out below.
We believe in inclusive church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality. We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.
There are now over 600 churches nationwide that have registered as ‘inclusive’ and we are very pleased to be one of them.
How is All Saints inclusive?
At the heart of being an Inclusive Church is listening:
to the historic and current experiences of marginalised people
to the voice of God through scripture, tradition and reason
to one another as a church community
We began by engaging with Inclusive Church resources for a Lent series of small groups looking at each of the core areas of exclusion that IC identifies accompanied by a sermon series of visiting preachers. Having joined the network we now, through our Church Council (PCC) and ministry team, work to make decisions with our inclusive values at the centre. Listening and learning as we go.
Some of the practical steps we have taken on our inclusive journey so far have been:
- To run a course exploring how to support those with dementia.
- Reviewing how those with anxiety might feel safe in a Sunday service.
- Highlighting mental health awareness.
- Supporting Christians at Pride and holding special LGBTQ+ affirming services.
- Exploring themes of Racial justice through a bespoke Lent programme created
by our Intercultural Worshipping Community (IWC) Steering Group.
- Keeping our liturgy under review, looking for ways the words and music we use can best express the inclusive love of God and the diversity of our community.
- Committing to offering online worship for the long term for those unable to attend church physically.
- Raising funding to install a new hearing loop in 2022
- Supporting other churches in their exploration of joining Inclusive Church and raising awareness of inclusive campaigns within the Church of England and wider society.
If you have any specific access needs or ideas for creating a more inclusive space for worship please do let us know by contacting us.