“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist…”
These words of the German Lutheran Pastor, Martin Neimoller, may be known by many of us – and they were words which I quoted in a speech at Deanery Synod in February. We were debating the need for a church to be “inclusive” and what that means, and that has led me to more thought.
I was attracted to St Chrysostom’s because of the welcoming and accepting ethos demonstrated on the web page. Here I hoped to find a church which would accept me as I am and not as they would like me to be.
I won’t bore you with detail but in many ways I was a stereotypical Anglican, but also I had my own issues which I brought which many congregations would rather not talk about, and brush under the carpet.
At St C’s I found a church and congregation which was working hard to be inclusive and welcoming – and accepting of me “warts and all”.
Inclusion and welcome are things that have to be worked at – as a Society, as a Church and even as individuals. It isn’t sufficient to merely “think” that we are inclusive people, as if thinking it makes it true. It has to be worked at in order to be achieved.
We at St C’s are happy to celebrate and live with diversity, we rejoice in the complexity of the make-up of the People of God. We rejoice in varied sexualities, value gender equality in Ministry, work hard at involving people of colour at all levels. These are not accidents, they are positive ways in seeking to be an inclusive congregation.
I feel it important that we continue to work at this, and to be proud of our stance. I was once advised by a Bishop to be less “open and frank” about myself as it was not good – I have since wondered who it was “not good” for.
We need to challenge fear and prejudice in Society and in the Church, it is a prophetic role that we at St C’s have in our deanery and Diocese – it will at times be painful for us, but “by their fruits shall you know them”.