Inclusive Church were there for us when we really needed them.
In 2014 following the high-profile suicide of teenager Lizzie Lowe, who was a much-loved member of our church, we were flailing around looking to other people for support. The coroner’s hearing pinpointed the conflict between Lizzie’s faith and her sexuality as a key factor in her fatal decision. It was obvious that we had both a safeguarding tragedy and an inclusion problem and the ministry team and the Parochial Church Council decided that we need to act decisively and enact a root and branch evaluation of our theology and practice.
It was Inclusive Church we turned to for support. Most specifically it was the Inclusive Church Statement which drew us most strongly. It affirmed beliefs that were already core to our identity, things like ‘welcoming and serving all people in the name of Jesus Christ’ and being empowered by the Holy Spirit to help others experience the love of Christ. These are key features of our theological tradition and yet there was something liberating and ‘converting’ about the list of people that were included in this list of ‘all people’. Inclusive Church affirmed our identity while enabling us to repent of our blind spots and move forward with a bold new approach to inclusive ministry.
The team at Inclusive Church has accompanied us all the way through the process. Ruth Wilde has supported me personally and we have had the privilege of sharing our experiences nationally and internationally.
The dark days of 2014 have been transformed by the power of a new inclusive message, a message which Inclusive Church gave us the confidence to embrace and hold onto even when other members of the church couldn’t embrace it or were even hostile towards it.
Our church is now full of LGBTQ+ members. It is international and diverse. It has adults with learning disabilities. We have a new Changing Places facility for those with higher level physical need and we welcome people traditionally wary of church. Much of this has only been possible because Inclusive Church dared to believe that Church could be different – dared to believe it could be better.
Nick Bundock is the Vicar of St James and Emmanuel churches in Didsbury. He is one of the founders of Didsbury Pride and was one of the IC delegates for our visit to the Church of Sweden in 2018.