Withington goes Inclusive
04 June 2018 IN: Parish News
"We believe in inclusive Church - church which does not discriminate, on any level, including economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. We believe in 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."
Each of the 12 Anglican churches in the Withington deanery in the Diocese of Manchester has become an Inclusive Church, thought to be the first Inclusive deanery in the Church of England. Area Dean, The Revd Stephen Edwards, sees this as an important opportunity to welcome people across the whole deanery and to challenge discrimination.
After a period of working together and challenging one another to imagine how each could become inclusive of all, each of the 12 churches in Withington deanery has signed up to the Inclusive Church statement:
The Revd Stephen Edwards said, “People often think Inclusive Church is predominantly about sexuality and gender identity, but we’re looking at the full breadth of issues that can contribute to making people feel excluded. We are noticing more ways in which being inclusive is at the heart of the Church’s mission and there is still much to learn and do.”
On Economic Wealth, the Wythenshawe Team has made sure that all events are affordable by asking people to pay what they can afford. So far it has managed to cover its costs.
On mental and physical health, the churches are looking at ways of being dementia friendly, providing large-print service sheets as standard, and St Paul’s is open to all through its support of the L’Arche community.
By intentionally looking at gender, the William Temple church joined a Mothers’ Union campaign to support a local women’s refuge, and created a safe space for members to talk about issues that affected them.
To help give a voice to people of all races, churches support Black History month and are challenging themselves to look beyond the colour of people’s skin.
In the area of sexuality, St James and Emmanuel Didsbury has created two videos that tell of its journey towards being Inclusive. The church has also challenged its members by inviting a number of speakers to share their stories.
Taking part in Wythenshawe Pride has resulted in prayer requests from members of the LGBT community and attracted new members who didn’t previously feel welcome
Stephen concludes, “Looking to the future we aim to develop a programme of teaching, learning and discovering where God is calling us to witness to the love of Christ. This is central to our deanery Mission Action Plan.”