We hear quite a lot about ‘inclusive’ churches, and we’ve commented here about this. Now that refers to churches here and now, part of what the 1662 Book of Common Prayer calls ‘the Church Militant here in earth.’ But what about the ‘Church Triumphant’ in heaven!
Well some fundamentalist christians would have us believe heaven is a rather exclusive place, and also when we look at Calendars of Saints of churches we could be forgiven for thinking the church triumphant isn’t very inclusive. So many of the saints are western, white and single and there seem to be more men than women. And what about LGBT saints? (And, by the way, and more contentiously, what about saints of non christian faiths, do we honour them, or do we remain christian ‘in house’?)
If we look in the lists of saints we will find many that would help balance. There are many varied folk among them, and some have been rather sidelined in our less credulous days.
As we approach All Saintstide Fr Chris is helping redress the balance a little at our LGBT Communion. November’s celebration will honour LGBT saints. Of course, terms such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans are modern and understandings have changed. Nevertheless people looking at saints lives have identified many who fit these categories. (A suggested list is given here.) We’ve already drawn attention to some cross dressing saints here.
To be an inclusive church on earth means we will also wish to celebrate good role models in the saints. Part of this celebration will also involve placing images of LGBT saints in our churches. Anyone care to fund such a one for St Chrysostom’s!