I guess I became aware of Inclusive Church when our Parochial Church Council agreed to apply for membership, quite a few years ago. We had always tried to be inclusive and welcoming, and Inclusive Church’s principles seemed to line up with what we sought to do. I didn’t realise just how much this might mean to others, especially those motivated to join us because of that attitude, until individuals began to tell me about it. I chaired a group informally called ‘Mind the Gap’, which looked for gaps between our church community and those who felt outside it, and tried to find ways of bridging them. That was when I came across the IC series of books, with the individual stories they told about real people who wanted to join in but were prevented from doing so by discrimination and bias, whether intended or merely tolerated by a failure to do anything about it.
It was just over two years ago that Dianna Gwilliams (IC’s Chair, whom I knew in several other contexts) asked me if I would be prepared to take on the role of Treasurer for IC, as the previous incumbent was standing down after a number of years. That was when I began to get a clearer view of the work that Inclusive Church does, in a variety of contexts, both to educate those who do not appreciate the extent and effect of existing discrimination and exclusion, and to support those who suffer from it. It has been quite a steep learning curve, and I still feel that the other trustees know much more than I do, often from first-hand experience.
We are enormously blessed, as an organisation, by the energy and dedication of those we work with, but also by the generous and regular giving of many individuals and a number of churches. We could not manage without this support. But I soon discovered that the actual cost of what we do (and we want to do so much more) substantially exceeds this regular income. We have relied on other income, from events for example, which has dried up in the last 18 months, but in truth, we have been living off reserves for several years.
My message to those who read this is: please pray for the work Inclusive Church is trying to do. Join in, and encourage others to do so, to the extent that you can. If you feel also moved to support the work financially, that too would be wonderful, but it is not perhaps the most important thing – however strange it may be for a treasurer to say so!
Mike Bishop is an IC Trustee and Hon. Treasurer. You can read more about him and other trustees here.
Follow this link to donate to Inclusive church.