Being adaptable and accessible is always a healthy approach to being church, but due to a variety of challenges ‘mainstream’ church services can struggle to be fully inclusive.
Yvette Grundy is a ‘permanent deacon’, based in Welford on Avon, whose calling includes bridging boundaries that can prevent people feeling truly welcome in church.
Being a permanent deacon means that someone is ordained, and can baptise people and do other priestly duties but they do not ‘preside’ over a Communion service. An important part of a permanent deacon’s ministry in the Church of England involves working across boundaries of different sorts. One picture that has been used to symbolise this is of a deacon straddling the church doorway with one foot in the church and one foot in the world outside, encouraging those inside to go out and those outside to come in.
Yvette shares how she works out this aspect of her calling within a worshipping community called MIX.
She said, “MIX is church for people with additional needs, their families, friends and carers, and works in partnership with and gets support from local Christian churches, across a range of denominations, dioceses and counties.
“A very important basis of the approach at MIX is that every individual person, however they are involved, brings their own unique, God-given gifts to add into ‘the MIX’. This means that MIX is constantly evolving and changing, trying to adapt as much as possible to incorporate the ever-increasing range of needs and gifts of all as we journey together in faith with Jesus and one another.
“MIX works alongside other models of church and remains committed to exploring and learning about how to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, acknowledging that there is always more to discover and always room for development.
“During a time when regular monthly ‘get-togethers’ were not possible due to the pandemic, different ideas were explored to help the MIX family stay in touch. These included monthly mailings, YouTube videos and Zoom meets. A ‘Hope Line’ with a wooden shape representing a Bible-related message of hope sent out each month with a newsletter went down well and parable-themed door hangers also seemed popular – but nothing was quite the same as being able to meet together.
“So it has been really great to see that most MIXers have been keen to return to worship together whenever possible – and it is very exciting that monthly MIX gatherings will resume from September.”
MIX usually meets on the third Sunday of the month (check beforehand if you would like to come along) at theBarn Baptist Church, Bidford on Avon from 3.30 pm. It usually opens with a time of worship including music, creative presentations of a Bible message and interactive prayer time. (see photo) This is followed by related crafts, games or sensory activities for everyone and we end by sharing refreshments ‘café style’.