Here at St Chrysostom’s we’re proud of our record of inclusion. It is, of course, ongoing work.
Over a hundred years ago St Chrysostom’s pressed for greater inclusion of women in church life, the first women deaconesses in Manchester Diocese were commissioned at St Chrysostom’s, we had one of the first black ‘lay readers’ in the Church of England, one of the first black women churchwardens, each Sunday at least ten different nationalities are found among us and for over forty years we’ve welcomed LGBT people. Indeed twelve years ago we were the first Church of England church to have a Mass with a specific welcome to LGBT people.
A key factor in our work to be inclusive has been an ethos of welcome, and involving and integrating people into the life of our church.
The Church Council has recently been looking at worship, variety and our tradition of inclusion. As a result, to emphasise and celebrate the inclusion and variety at St Chrysostom’s, the Church Council has agreed to introduce on the last Sunday of the month a relaxed and gentle act of worship which we’re calling Evening Oasis. The service will have a variety of styles and emphases fitting in with our varied and multicultural, and multilingual congregation. It is intended that Evening Oasis be open and suitable to all.
This service has replaced our monthly Open Table service which had a particular focus on welcome of LGBT+ people. Evening Oasis will have a broader focus. Our aim is to broaden out the style and welcome which Open Table has begun to develop. So sometimes Evening Oasis may have a particular cultural focus relevant to our church, sometimes it may be led by LGBT people, sometimes by our young adults, sometimes it may include a meal and social gathering with prayer. Evening Oasis will often be a Mass with an ‘open table’ – where like at all our Masses – all are welcome to receive Communion. Differing styles, all with the emphasis on openness and inclusion, and being, as the name suggests, a time of gentle welcome and spirituality in a busy world.
Our final Open Table service was on February 25th, and the first Evening Oasis will be on May 27th.