Fr Ian writes:
Recent news from the wider Church has led me to reflect about the term ‘Inclusive’ as it applies to us here at St Chrysostom’s and beyond:
The term ‘inclusive’ has been used in some circles simply to mean welcoming of LGBT people. Now, of course, at St Chrysostom’s we extend such a welcome, and we have done for years. However, we understand ‘inclusive’ to mean far more than that. We try to be a church that welcomes and includes people of varying backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities, ages and faith understandings. The latter point is significant. We have people who are on the threshold of faith and those who interpret Christian teaching and faith in different ways. We wish to encourage such variety, listen to one another’s questions and views and learn from one another, as we worship at Mass together.
We try. At times we will not succeed and so we try again! Sometimes people may be unhappy because some people are included whom they think should not be, and sometimes people will be unhappy because they feel we are not inclusive enough.
Inclusion in the Church goes very deep, and can be very challenging. For example, are we really inclusive of children when we ‘excommunicate’ them, that is, do not permit them to receive Holy Communion? Is the language in worship and song sufficiently inclusive or does it always portray God in masculine, power-focused, terms? Is our worship and our building easily accessible for those with differing disabilities?
St Chrysostom’s works to be open, inclusive and generous in approach. Inclusivity is a radical and challenging stance to take, it takes hard work and commitment. It is one we should embrace with courage as we seek to follow Jesus Christ who treated all equally.