Young Inclusive Church

Young Inclusive Church (Young IC)

Young ICYoung Inclusive Church is the youthful arm of Inclusive Church aimed at 18-35 year olds. We seek to support one another with issues around ethnicity, mental health, gender, poverty, sexual orientation and disability, particularly where these issues intersect with faith.


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Leeds Young ICLeeds Young IC

A group has been established in Leeds. Click here to go to their Facebook page.

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Vocation and Sexuality

here i am lord

A reflection by a member of Young Inclusive Church

Although in many churches today a call to the priesthood and a homosexual orientation are not compatible, they both have similar attributes. The very nature of sexuality and vocation, when striped to the bare bones are the same, it is not something you choose and you cannot run from it.

A vocation to the priesthood, as said by those who feel a calling, does not go away until you have done something about it. You cannot run from God. Speaking as someone who feels called to the priesthood, it is an innate burning desire to follow the will of God and to use the gifts, given by God to you, for His will. No matter how far you run or what you do to hide, like Jonah, you cannot get away. This is a very similar story for sexuality. You cannot change your sexuality, if you are gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, or anything in between there is not much you can do about it. 

 Another similarity is that it is not something you choose. A vocation is a gift from God to you, you cannot choose to be a priest, you are chosen. In the same way you cannot choose your sexuality, whatever the cause of homosexuality is (that is another debate) you cannot change or choose it.

Living a lie is a very painful experience and is not something that can be done well in either vocation or sexuality. The pain comes where someone is forced to make a choice between vocation and sexuality; do you lie about your sexuality to become ordained or do you lie about your vocation so you can be who you are? Either way you cannot live as God made you. This is where the real pain is, because of the nature of vocation and sexuality, and the current rules on the both from many churches, both vocation and sexuality cannot be fully fulfilled. For people, like me, who are made to choose between the call to the priesthood and their sexuality this is the painful reality, we are told to lie about who we are, or give up on our feelings of vocation and told to live with it, with very little support or care from the church.

Having to hide your sexuality because of your vocation is to deny a part of your vocation. God calls us as we are, just as Jesus chose his followers, the fallen, the lowly, the gay, the tax collector, the disabled, the outcast, everyone just as they are. To hide sexuality, to hide a part of who you are, goes against that call to come just as you are, because in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, gay or straight.

To hide your vocation because of the rules of the church on sexuality is equally as painful. The desire to follow your calling, your vocation that God has given you is so strong it becomes a part of you who are. Being forced to not follow it is heartbreaking.

Due to the nature of vocation and sexuality, the only way to embrace both, however then the only option is to lie, and who really wants to start ministry with a lie, and be forced to live out that ministry hiding a part of who you are, looking over your shoulder, and trying to hide your partner from the parish and the bishop. Unfortunately this seems to be one of two options if you want to fulfil both your vocation and sexuality; the only other option is to stand up and try and change things, make yourself counted, and let the church see that you are being called by God to come just as you are.

Sam Walker

One Persons Story

Taylor CareyThis is Taylor Carey's story -first something about him:

I’m an undergraduate at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, reading History and International Relations and in the second year of my degree. I was born and raised in Sussex, and began my journey of faith amongst the magnificent neo-gothic architecture and daily rhythms of worship at Lancing College. I have been formed both spiritually and theologically in a broadly catholic tradition within the Church of England, and continue to be nourished by its balance of scripture, tradition and reason, which I firmly believe provides for the most authentic engagement with the true radicalism of the Gospels.

Whilst studying at St Andrews I continue to discern a vocation to the priesthood, which is a matter of much prayer, contemplation and conversation! I am immensely grateful for a space in which I can engage with so many people of different traditions and faiths – and indeed no faith at all – as I continue to ask what God wants of me. The opportunity to hear so many perspectives and access so many different lived experiences of faith has opened my eyes to the ever-surprising nature of the Christian Revelation, and given me an insight into why groups such as Inclusive Church are so important to the life and health of our community today.

Alongside an interest in theology and spirituality, I’m a keen follower of political developments on both sides of the Atlantic. I blog regularly at various sites and tweet unapologetically as @TaylorBCarey. It has been a particular privilege for me to be involved in some wonderful student societies at St Andrews, including a fundraising group for the fantastic charity Mary’s Meals; and even to be on the Roman Catholic Society’s Committee as a graciously invited ecumenical guest. Listening and learning is thus what I spend most of my time joyfully doing – whether it be at the feet of the Lord or my brothers and sisters around me! 

When did you first know that you were gay?” is a frequently posed question to which I still struggle to find an answer. Applying an arbitrary age – 12? – seems rather to miss the point of an extraordinary journey of discovery which I have lived throughout my childhood, and continue to reflect upon in adolescence. Having only recently made public what I had long felt relatively comfortable with in private, I still get some enjoyment out of watching people’s reactions when I add “and I think I’m going to be a priest”.

Most non-Christians will be able to tell you why that sounds like an absolutely terrible idea. School pupils who couldn’t care less about God (or funny people in robes) will probably remember that somewhere in the Bible, homosexuals are called an ‘abomination’, which doesn’t exactly sound like an amiable conversation-starter. Across the world today, men and women professing faith in Jesus Christ continue to denounce homosexuality as immoral, fundamentally disordered and intrinsically evil, and use the words of the Bible to justify gross acts of intolerance, discrimination and bigotry. In short, young people today who are inspired by an encounter with the gratuitous, overflowing love of God are all too often stopped short by the utter failure of love shown amongst communities acting in His name. 

Listening to God is not always easy. I can still remember the rose-tinted beginnings of a sense of vocation, singing Isaac Watts’ hymn ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’, with its magnificent ending: ‘Love so amazing, so divine / Demands my soul, my life, my all’. But, as that journey of discernment has progressed, so my own maturity in exploring the real depth of those words has increased. ‘Vocation’ has made me think more about the kind of God I worship than it has about myself. Christians believe in a God of surprises, who is always making afresh and anew that loving promise which sustains the world. We are called, therefore, to view each and every messy and complicated aspect of human existence as a potential space for God’s creative work; the ‘muddled bundle of experiences’ which we call human life is in this sense a theatre in which God’s love longs to bear fruit.

Thus any notion of ‘vocation’ – the calling of each Christian to live a life shaped by the Holy Spirit – ought, I think, to highlight our need for God, and the dangers of retreating into our own narrow-mindedness. For me, the vocation to the ordained ministry is quite inseparable from a calling to live out a faithful life as a gay man. And I know the same holds true for so many people who find themselves beyond the pale of the ‘churched’, and yet who feel called to respond to an overwhelming invitation from God – among them sexual minorities, women, the disabled, and those who have had to deal with mental illness. It is my hope and prayer that, in thinking more about the meaning of vocation, we might be reawakened to the reality of a God who constantly challenges our settled assumptions and leads us to pastures anew, if only we would listen. 

We face huge challenges in facilitating gracious discussion around controversial issues, in which we must articulate a coherent theology of inclusion and engage with the authentic radicalism of the Gospels. For my part, where the obstacles seem daunting, I have found comfort and relief both with God and in community. Aside from the constant nourishment of prayer and contemplation, I have realised how incredibly important true friendships are; without one or two people, who know who they are, I simply could not have begun the journey I now find myself undertaking.

There are countless hymns to remind us of this dual importance of God and fellow pilgrim as we go about exploring our lives and building an ever-more inclusive community, but Donald MacLeod’s ‘Courage, Brother! Do not stumble’ has always seemed to me to capture that inspiring vocation best:

            “Courage, brother! Do not stumble,

            though your path be dark as night;

            there’s a star to guide the humble:

trust in God and do the right.

let the road be rough and dreary,

and its end far out of sight;

foot it bravely; strong or weary:

trust in God and do the right.”

Trusting in God, I continue on my own journey of faith, humbly seeking to help build a church where all are truly welcome.

Taylor Carey Undergraduate, University of St Andrews. @TaylorBCarey