Mission Statement for St James Inclusive Church Group
(Published May 2022)
‘Be loved, belong, be healed’
“Revolutionary Love is the call of our times. It is to look upon the face of anyone and say:
You are a part of me I do not yet know.“ (Valerie Kaur)
After over a year of peer study and reflection, with input from many St Jamesians, the Inclusive Church group have come to believe that there is little to distinguish Inclusive Church and ‘church’ at its best. St James’s liberal, open-minded, collaborative and indeed inclusive outlook should mean that our desire to journey towards deeper levels of belonging where ‘all are welcome’ is not too controversial.
We also believe that being inclusive is about acknowledging and affirming the place of difference within the St James community. And where ‘extreme empathy’ and ‘radical acceptance’ challenge and guide us towards a greater threefold welcoming of ourselves, each other, and the wider community.
As a church we have signed up to the Inclusive Church badge. Inclusive Church is a way of being as a church at least as much as it is about ticking any boxes. We see the badge as a reminder to ourselves and a visible sign to seekers and onlookers of all we are actively seeking to be as individuals and as a community.
The story and journey of Inclusive Church at St James
Since early 2021 the St James Inclusive Church Group have met regularly to share their personal stories of inclusion and exclusion as Christians. This has been a rich and rewarding experience for all of us. Jesus changed the world through telling stories; being seen and heard in our own stories is a powerful way to bring a greater sense of connection and belonging even in diverse experiences. This more ‘private’ stage of the Group’s work has now come to its natural end.
Additionally the Group have facilitated an Inclusive Church service and spoken with others through individual conversations and via a dedicated Facebook group.
The next stage of Inclusive Church
We feel that the following activities are likely to be our main focus over the next year or so.
To help embed Inclusive Church activities and principles more fully into how St James operates – for example, ensuring there is someone to raise the ‘inclusion’ flag at liturgy group meetings and at vestry.
To make sure the ‘leaf’ suggestions from the inclusive church service are followed through. These leaves have been collated and are broadly gathered under the following areas:
welcome at the door / attending to new people / newcomers event once or twice a year
more social events / lunches / small groups /opportunity for friendships
language especially gender
more for/with children and families
better signage, and signposting in services as to how things work
less words, spaciousness, silence, more of the unexpected, being and doing, speaking with those on margins
To learn and listen together, in particular by providing an enabling environment for inclusive issues to be discussed and stories heard in a thoughtful, prayerful way that expands both knowledge and heart - for example by organising seminars on particular areas of ‘difference’ issues such as mental health, disability or gender
To hold regular Inclusive Church services – most likely a couple a year
To make it known that Iain/St James has opted in with the SEC to officiate at equal marriages
To speak out on issues of Inclusion in our community and society
In all this we remain mindful that Inclusion is not an add-on or a special topic in church, it is ‘church’. A felt sense of welcome and belonging is one of the human soul’s deepest needs; inclusion is everybody’s business.
Come join us!
We are now keen to expand the group with the aim to meet once per term to keep a watching brief on the above points, and put our ponderings into action. So please get in touch if you’d like to find out a bit more about our plans and/or if you think you might be interested in joining the team or supporting its work. We’d love to hear from you.
Just check out our contacts page HERE for ways to get in touch.