IC Story: Jack Woodruff

My first encounter with Inclusive Church was a few years ago when I joined St Luke’s in Clifton, York, who at the time were one of two registered inclusive churches in the city. A few of us in the congregation began a monthly gathering called OutsideIN which sought to bring together LGBT+ Christians from across the city. I no longer live in York, but I believe they are still active now with a growing membership. My time at St Luke’s taught me the importance of finding groups and communities where I could be with like-minded people. Whilst it isn’t healthy to live in an echo chamber, there are times when this is essential for recharging in the face of what can feel like relentless hostility to change.

For the past two years, I have been living and working for the Iona Community on the Island of Iona as part of the residential community at Iona Abbey. Iona Abbey is an ecumenical place of worship, and I have enjoyed not being tied to one denomination, something which I will take forward. Being on Iona has expanded my understanding of what it means to be an inclusive church. I have met people from around the world, who practice their faith (and not only a Christian one) in a variety of ways – through worshipping outdoors around a fire, shared meals, the Dances of Universal Peace, swimming in the ocean, and engaging with Aramaic words of Jesus.

My struggle with national church bodies is that they so often seem silent on the things their members care about, or perhaps they make statements but there is no action. There is a lot of goodwill in congregations, but more support is needed to facilitate change. Individual churches should not have to be fundraising to make their building more accessible – the national church should be offering grants for this, if it really is committed to bringing people with disabilities into the hearts of its churches. Individual churches should not have to be providing food banks – the national church should be using its political power to put pressure on the government to introduce policies that bring about food justice, if it really is committed to fighting poverty. What other examples can you think of?

Inclusive Church is an organisation I really believe in because it is providing a valuable resource to those looking for a place of worship where they can be themselves. As a trustee of Inclusive Church, I am looking forward to supporting it and helping it grow to send out its message of inclusion to more and more people.

Jack Woodruff is a trustee of Inclusive Church. You can read more about Jack here.

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