One of the features of Jesus’ ministry that I notice over and over again is the way which Jesus seems to welcome all the so-called “wrong” people. The company that Jesus chooses sets fingers-wagging and tut-tutting.
As a church which seeks to be shaped by the example of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we aspire to be similarly inclusive. In January our Church Council adopted an Inclusivity statement. It deliberately uses conversational language rather than that of a formal policy statement. It will shortly be displayed around the church building. It reads as follows:
We welcome everyone whether you are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay,
confused, rich or poor. We hope that you feel able to belong, whatever your
gender, sexuality, mental health, physical health, ability, race or ethnicity.
We welcome children; wailing babies, excited toddlers, even those that wiggle,
giggle, cry or are shy.
We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or prefer to just growl
quietly to yourself.
You’re welcome here if you’re just browsing, just woken up, or have just left
prison. We don’t care if you are more Christian than the Archbishop of
Canterbury or haven’t been to church since Christmas ten years ago.
We welcome YOU, whoever you may be.
It’s our hope that together we will experience the width, length, height and
depth of God’s love for us in Jesus and understand our sacred worth.
Unfortunately we don’t have any perfect people here. We all have hang-ups and
we get things wrong. We’re not yet who God is calling us to be either as
individuals or as a church. Please help us to understand each other’s needs
better so that all of our colours can shine as God intended.
We believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to follow
Jesus Christ together.
This is our dream.
We need each other.
We need YOU!
Our inclusivity statement is aspirational. We recognise that we are not yet where we need to be. We don’t yet provide the best welcome that we could to wheelchair users for example. It also seeks to reflect our brokenness. At Frodsham Methodist Church we have different opinions on some of the issues raised. Part of being an inclusive church is that we belong together despite the fact that we hold different views sincerely. I believe that this is normal within the church of Jesus Christ. Living with difference can be costly. A Jesus-shaped church is one which like Jesus, bears pain so that God and people can be held together.
Grace and peace.
Andrew M. Emison
Blog posts written by the Minister and Members of Frodsham Methodist Church.