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Reflections on our Lent Course: Everybody Welcome?


Over the Monday evenings of Lent a group met online via Zoom and in person to explore the subject of 'Welcome' through Bible study, discussion, film clips and teaching. Below you can read reflections on the course by three of our participants.


As an outcome of this course, we would like to explore formally becoming an 'Inclusive Church.' Watch out for more about this in the coming months, but in the meantime you can find out more about Inclusive Church by clicking here.


Liz:

The latest Lent Course has enabled us to consider together the nature of our welcome at St. Andrew’s. In doing so we were able to think about how inclusive we are and whether all who entered the Church would feel accepted.

The challenging restrictions regarding inclusivity within the Church of England were brought to God in respectful conversation and prayer. As we are all made in the image God it made for interesting discussion.

We also considered our behaviour around children in Church. Did it make them feel like guests at an adult event or a truly respected part of our congregation? We also explored the idea of inborn spirituality and how it may be nurtured.

It has enabled us to prayerfully consider the future, what part we play in it and how to faithfully represent God in our interactions with others.


Suzanne:

Everyone is welcome! Yes, of course we agreed, and smiled, and felt pleased that St Andrew’s is such a friendly place. It is, isn’t it? We talked of our own experiences of being welcomed, whether it was a few months ago or a lot of years.

How easy is it to become part of the community, to participate and to lead? We thought about obstacles, including our own insistence on how things should be done; the red lines we draw; the ‘over my dead body’ issues. What does it mean to be truly inclusive: who is Other to me, on account of ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, mental or physical difference, and how do I get past my own resistance? How do I see children in the congregation: as full and fellow members with me? Or as ornaments or future-proofers?

You’ll notice that I’ve been left with a lot of questions, and that’s right: the course raised them, and we started to discuss them, but we’ve got a long way to go: finding answers (and more questions) will take us well beyond Lent.

Thank you, Lucy, Anthony, Elisabeth and fellow questioners in the Holt Room and online.


Caroline:

As a relative newcomer to St. Andrews, it was interesting and enjoyable to attend the Lent course on the theme of Welcome. A blend of in-person and zoom with breakout groups, it was another way to get to know more people and to share each other’s views on how we welcome different types of people are at the church. I was very encouraged by how inclusive and welcoming people were, and hope that this reflects the views of the church as a whole! Reflections on how welcome we’d each felt on first attending the church and possible barriers were discussed. The course moved on to look at welcoming into the church, thinking about perceived hierarchy and how easy or difficult it is to get involved, and then more deeply into how particular people might feel marginalised, because of factors such as disability, race, sexuality, gender, age, etc. The course was a good mix of Bible passages, context & cultural background to the Scriptures, information on contemporary culture, and thought-provoking questions. We began and ended each session with a prayer. As one attendee commented, every person on the planet is a creation of God. I am excited to see how the church moves forward in becoming recognised as a fully inclusive church.



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