The church I serve, Mutley Baptist Church, has recently joined the Inclusive Church Network. The ICN statement reads:
“We believe in inclusive church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate.
We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality.
We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”
This is both descriptive and aspirational for us. We believe that this describes us because we want to celebrate and affirm every single person as someone who is created and loved by God.
Yet there is always more we can do, and will do. For example, we discovered that the British Dyslexia Association recommends that visuals on screens should be high contrast but not black and white, so our slides on screens are now predominantly cream background with black text in an accessible font (definitely not yellow on blue in comic sans!).
Recently some of our members were at Spring Harvest in Minehead. In one of the venues they attended an artist was painting during the sessions, and this intrigued them.
What was it going to be?
As the image matured in the artist’s hands it became clear that it was a group of people, but there was an intriguing space in the middle that she hadn’t filled in.
Was she going to paint Jesus there?
As the painting was finally finished the artist revealed the words on the top of the painting: Everyone is welcome.
It became clear that the space in the middle was so that everyone could sit and put themselves into the picture.
Wonderfully, and generously, the painting was bought by some of our members and brought back to our church. We’ll be putting it where everyone can participate and be a part of the picture.
It’s a lovely painting, made even more beautiful by the interactive message of inclusion.
There’s a space for you in our church.