Inclusive communities are communities that include everyone, communities that recognise that nothing can hold us back from the love of God nor from the community of Christians.
Gloucester Diocese is an active member of the multi-agency movement, FestivALL. As a partnership, we are working together to break down barriers in our communities across ethnicity, faith, ability, sexual orientation, class, age and gender and create opportunities for us all to discover more about the people, places and organisations in our area. FestivALL is all about coming together, talking, sharing and celebrating – but most of all, having fun.
Sexuality and Gender Identity
This area of inclusion can be a complicated one for churches as there are people feeling passionately, both for and against inclusion. The latest guidance follows the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ framework, and can be found below:
Living in Love and Faith
Shared Conversations grouping
Faith often has an important place in the lives of people living with dementia and their families. For resources, videos, training and advice, please visit the page below:
Community that is truly inclusive isn’t easy, as it challenges us to overcome barriers and to relate to people who are different from us in one way or another. Though not easy it is incredibly rewarding, as through going out of our comfort zones, we become open to the gifts of people who have very different life experiences from our own.
Living in such a way is to live out Jesus’ example. Time after time, Jesus made a point of connecting with those who had been pushed to the margins of society in one way or another. He treated them with respect and dignity, and saw beyond the label that society had put on them, and restored them into relationship with their community.
Inclusion in Local neighbourhoods
We have a good working relationship with the Barnwood Trust, a local charity that focusses on inclusion of people living with disability. The Barnwood Trust run an excellent programme of free training, which is open to everyone, that help us think through how to ensure that everyone is included in our church and community events:
A few years ago the Barnwood Trust realised that in order to ensure a good quality of life for people with disability, the community in general needs training in how to make sure everyone is valued and included. They have therefore had a recent focus on building inclusive community and a form of community development called Asset Based Community Development (ABCD; see event above). This is a way of working with local communities that rather than looking for problems to fix, looks at where there is energy bubbling within the community itself to do something, and works with that energy.
ABCD has a lot in common with the approach in Christian Mission that is about finding out what God is doing and joining in, formally termed the ‘Missio Dei’. It also chimes with Sam Wells’ recent writing that encourages us rather than ‘doing things for’ our communities, to prioritise relationships, so that we are ‘being with’ or ‘doing with’. This results in taking the time to be in relationships with others, and when there is a need for action, to do it in partnership with others, with members of the community taking the lead.
We have a variety of resources and guidance available, related to the broad topic of Inclusive Communities:
Working with Children and Families
Contact Specialist advisors via Mission & Ministry
Disability and the Church
Looking at Parish Mission Action Plans
Pioneering & Fresh Expressions