Harry, from Mickleover, shares his experience of being welcomed into an inclusive church
I am 87 years old. I used to think that when I am old, faith would be stronger, easier, more “stuck in the mud”. We often hear said that old people don’t like change. Perhaps that’s true. But I have discovered that sometimes change can be a positive thing.
A friend with a car phoned me, he had gone online and found a church, St Werburgh in Spondon, which openly makes it very clear that its policy is totally inclusive.
Most churches would, I’m sure, say that and the parishioners like to think that is true.
When a church goes inclusive it often attracts different people looking for greater acceptance than they feel they have previously experienced. My friend John and I turned up on a particular Sunday morning not really knowing what to expect.
I’ve been attending an Evangelical church for many years and the congregation and its current vicar have been kind to me knowing I am gay.
For years I’ve felt that my faith was ebbing away for many different reasons and, although I have been encouraged to be an active participant at church, I was never really at home there.
As John and I entered this inclusive church, the organist was thrilling us with his superb playing in a truly beautiful building.
The lights glittered, the candles flickered. To my delight the choirs and clergy processed and the space filled with joy and a tremendous feeling and expectancy that something great was about to happen. We were not disappointed.
The priest started by welcoming us all - whoever or whatever we are. This included his welcome to LGBT people of whatever nature or persuasion they may be.
Halfway through the service, I realised tears were running down my cheeks.
Someone sitting next to me asked if I was unwell. I happily told her I felt I’d come home and that my tears were of joy and relief as I realised my faith was intact.
That old feeling of many years that I’d lost the plot, but I had in fact been suppressing my desire to worship the way that is natural to me and made myself isolated, lonely and depressed.
I left the service smiling and aware that the freshly snuffed candles mixed with the lingering of the perfume of incense had lifted my spirit and I felt I’d come home.
I no longer had to pretend and realised there is not just one way to worship our God of Love, whose reality is in difference and diversity - and this includes LGBT people.
About St Werburgh's, Spondon
St Werburgh Church in Spondon believes in Inclusive Church, a church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. They believe in Church that welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; is scripturally faithful and seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation. They do this in the power of the Holy Spirit, allowing all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.
More information is available at:
St Werburgh website: www.stwerburgh.com
or the Inclusive Church website: www.inclusive-church.org