Living in Love and Faith
When I first received my Curacy offer and found out I was coming to HPC – I did some research (as every potential Curate should!) what a joy it was to discover that you were an Inclusive Church. Sometimes when we are going through the journey of obtaining such kite marks and status we do not know the impact it will have on others, when I knew that you had gone down the Inclusive Church route and carried that kite mark I knew that you were a place where I wanted to serve.
When I arrived and commenced my Curacy and began to get my head around who Huddersfield Parish Church was Revd Rachel sent me the PCC document with the following statements, I was deeply moved:
- We hope and believe that inclusion is well established at St Peter’s.
- We are committed to being intentionally welcoming and to the changes true welcome inevitably brings to our community.
- We believe that inclusion in all aspects of church life is vital to the mission of Christ’s church. We fear that the Church’s current exclusive position is a barrier to our full participation in mission as Jesus intended.
- We are committed to being visible symbols of God’s inclusion and a safe space for everyone. If we are all made in God’s image, and Jesus taught us to love one another, how can the Church not be inclusive?
- We know we are a diverse community where different views are held. We are equally committed to intentional positive engagement where conflict arises.
- We welcome the day we are legally able to celebrate equality in relationships. We are embarrassed, frustrated and heartbroken that we cannot openly bless all loving, Christ-filled relationships.
- We feel the church should make inclusive language part of legal liturgy. We will not use semantics to justify mistreating people.
- We are deeply concerned by the hypocrisy of the Church on matters of sexuality which we feel forced to collude with to maintain church unity. As Christians we are committed to challenging any behaviours that exclude or do not affirm Christ’s inclusivity.
In training I facilitated a Living in Love and Faith course, so I understood the content and the process, but to know that I was serving in a community which took the content of this process so seriously and were so deeply committed to it, affirmed and deepened my desire to serve my curacy in this special place. Living in Love and Faith can be done as a stand-alone course – something to help educate, instruct, enable us to engage with other perspectives. I sincerely believe that in accepting the statements above that HPC have understood the Gospel imperative to include, to love, to serve and to love some more.
The world sees a Church which whilst excluding cannot demonstrate its commitment to love and that as is stated is frustrating and heartbreaking. When there is division around inclusion I am always drawn to the image of St Paul. A man who has been used for centuries to uphold misogyny, racism and intolerance by some in the Christian community. I remember the first time I began to study St Paul for myself and the realization that the polar opposite of the man is true, St Paul was radically inclusive before his time. He too was heartbroken by disunity and division and longed to bring everyone into the love of God and was willing to alter and amend things in order for this to happen.
Let’s all follow St Paul’s example and commit, as our PCC have done, to being radically loving and inclusive. Let’s commit to being heartbroken and outraged by things which do not promote love, unity and inclusion. Let’s work to engage with issues such as Living in Love and Faith not just as token gestures but as an outworking of our discipleship and growing commitment to the Christ we serve. Let’s always love with no exception.