Inclusive communities are communities that include everyone, communities that recognise that nothing can hold us back from the love of God or from the community of Christians.
Sexuality and Gender Identity
This area of inclusion is a complicated one for churches as there are people feeling passionately, both for and against inclusion. For those wanting to make space for conversations in their parish or benefice to explore this further, there are lots of resources available here:
Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Human Sexuality →
Deaf and hard of hearing
Steve Morris is the Chaplain for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Contact and further information here →
This is becoming an increasing priority within ministry against the background of the ageing of our society. Faith often has an important place in the lives of people living with dementia and their families. The following are useful resources for those exploring this area of ministry:
A short leaflet produced by Gloucester Diocese for those beginning to think about this area of ministry:
Ministering to those with dementia
The dementia friendly churches guide from Liveability:
For those wanting to read more widely, as well as useful online links and videos
Dementia friendly carol services
Dementia training for churches, delivered locally
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.
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.
Each partner organisation is free to work in the way that suits their core ethos, recognising the wide overlap between many of our values and concerns, and the advantages of working together when possible. There is an opportunity here for churches to take advantage of the regional network in order to develop local partnerships, deepen community engagement and work for the wellbeing of our communities.
In 2019, we have chosen July as FestivALL month, the most popular when all the agencies who are part of the movement were consulted. The plan for this month includes:
- Local events: small, large and everything in between
- A month of acts of community kindness
- Profile raising through the media, in the general area of communities and neighbourhoods that include everyone, as well as FestivALL in particular.
This follows 2018’s FestivALL month, which ran from mid-May to mid-June and launched with high profile events at the Cathedral. The launch events were followed by a huge variety of local events, with churches involved as significant partners in many instances. The month’s programme included a community arts festival; several village fetes; a mental health learning day; an open day at Star College; a riding for the disabled ‘fun afternoon’; a moth morning at a local nature reserve; a wellbeing workshop, and many more. Coverage of FestivALL 2018 by SoGlos is here.
As last year, in 2019 we are inviting all our worshipping communities to be involved with this wonderful opportunity to build new relationships and strengthen current networks by organising events, big or small, which bring people together. In addition this year, churches may like to get involved in the month of daily acts of community kindness.
Events on offer can be something already planned in your 2019 calendar that fits the FestivALL ethos, using the branding and publicity to give it some extra energy. It can be a small event, like a community picnic, or a coffee morning, taking minimal resources. Or something as big as a community fete, where several organisations come together to contribute time and finances to reach as many people as possible. The only thing we ask is that at every event, everybody is made to feel welcome.
This year we have a particular focus on intergenerational invitations and have worked on some guidelines with Age UK. The value of intergenerational working has been much in the media, the general idea being a simple mixing up of the age groups: the elderly visiting a toddler group; residents of a care home invited to the dress rehearsal of a school production; a coffee morning opened up from the usual older clientele to invite parents and pre-schoolers to join them; a group of children singing in a residential care home. Some guidelines on intergenerational invitations are on this link: FestivALL 2019 intergenerational.
Contact to find out more.
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