Category Archives: Inclusive Church

An evening of celebration, protest and solidarity on Valentine’s Day

”My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep. The more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite…”
Romeo & Juliet Act 11 scene 2

Love (c) Jessica Hische

Following our response to the bishops’ Pastoral Statement, a few members of the congregation decided to get together at church for an alternative Valentine’s evening yesterday as a symbolic protest to insist that love is far more diverse than the Church may be ready to recognise.

It was a beautiful evening: we prayed through a liturgy of celebration and blessing, we lit candles to remember a dear friend, recently lost, Kye, and to pray for the church to become more compassionate and diverse. We also shared some delicious food. Adriaan had us in stitches with food/sensuality allusions and metaphors from Song of Songs (on hearing this, you’d never look at a pomegranate the same way again!) and Nicola shared a powerful and wonderful poem, which she has just written… and left not one dry eye in the room: 

This is my church, your church and our church, 
a church of unity, sanctuary, asylum, a whole church

Those who have travelled whether willingly or not,
those white or of colour, those with all those who’ve not got

The upwardly mobile, middle roaders and oppressed,
those who’s assigned gender doesn’t meet the way they’re dressed

Those of native language, those with words that helped form it, 
those whose emotions run so deep no words we need, 
those so deeply hurt they can no longer bleed. 

Those who can sing it and shout it that Jesus died for them, 
those scared to even whisper for the weight of silencing from men

When I walk through the doors, oh hi so glad you are here,
not what do we do it’s her, you know her, the queer. 

My name resounds in joyful muse 
never feeling my sexuality, anyone does confuse, 

we are there gods people, 
God’s children worshipping in his image, 
holding up the hearts of those broken whilst they heal, 
holding those so broken they can no longer feel, 
those who had once given up on mankind. 

But here in my church, in your church, in ours, 
all hearts are thrown open and arms wrap tightly 
with the words of our beautiful all inclusive lord, 
we are but people all formed in his image 
so we go forth with strength and rise to the challenge. 

We may have less rights be frowned on by many 
but together we have faith not experienced by any, 
we are the few sent to make us the many. 

Together we grow, divided we fall, 
if you hurt one you will hurt us all, 
but we will take that pain and make it a gain 

For this church is my church is your church is ours, 
our sanctuary, our breath our infinite love divine, 
I am so proud to with these people entwine. 

My church your church ours we conquer, 
ever carried forward by the strength of our father
— Nicola Edmonds, 2020

Here too is an excerpt from the liturgy we used:

An affirmation of Faith and Hope 

O God, Giver of Life, 
Bearer of Pain, Maker of Love, 
affirming in your incarnation 
the goodness of the flesh: 
may the yearnings of our bodies 
be fulfilled in sacraments of love, 
and our earthly embracings be enjoyed 
as a foretaste of the glory to come, 
in the light of the resurrection of Jesus, 
our Companion, our Lover and our Guide. 
Amen. 

May the outrageous welcome of God 
accept us for who we are; 
May the incarnation of the Word 
touch and hold us close; 
May the wandering of the Spirit 
help us risk ourselves for love. 
May God drive us out with power 
to fill the world with her justice. 
Amen.

Response to the Bishops’ ‘Pastoral Statement’

The House of Bishops of the Church of England recently released a ‘pastoral statement’ on civil partnerships which has received considerable attention in the press, and has caused controversy in the church and beyond. This is our considered response:

All Hallows’ Church Leeds
Response to the Bishops’ ‘Pastoral Statement’

Friday 31 January 2020

The House of Bishops of the Church of England recently released a ‘pastoral statement’ on civil partnerships which has received considerable attention in the press, and has caused controversy in the church and beyond. We acknowledge that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York since then have apologised for releasing this statement, but they have not retracted any of its content.  

The statement has caused a lot of anger and pain among many church members and other Christians. This particularly applies to those whose relationships, in which they express and experience intimacy, love and grace, the statement declares to be ‘falling short of God’s purposes for human beings’.

At All Hallows Church, we would like to affirm our understanding of being a Christian community:

We are trying to respond to the challenge of Jesus of Nazareth to love God, ourselves and others, exploring the meaning of God’s love for all people — women, men, black, white, gay, straight, older, younger, of faith or no faith — and looking to meet the needs of people who feel damaged or marginalised. With others in the area, we work for justice, reconciliation and to inspire hope. Desmond Tutu’s phrase ‘the rainbow people of God’ underlies our use of the rainbow symbol — coming from a variety of backgrounds, ages and lifestyles, we celebrate and affirm our God-given diversity.

To our regret, because of the Church of England’s official policy, at All Hallows we are not legally permitted to conduct civil partnerships or same-sex weddings.

However, before being Anglican, we are called to be Christian. And to be Christian means to believe in God who bestows divine blessing on people who live together in love and unity (Psalm 133). Hence, we do celebrate this blessing with members of our community, regardless of the legal form of their relationship. Our congregation includes people in a wide variety of relationships, and we are grateful for the diverse ways in which they witness to God’s love.

We pray for a time when the church will acknowledge and embrace the diversity of God’s creation and the radical and inclusive nature of God’s love. We hope that the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith project will produce resources that will help the church to engage with questions about human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality in an open and affirming way. 

The process of change in the Church of England is slow. At All Hallows we advocate for and work for that change, and in the meantime we provide a welcoming space to all the rainbow people of God.

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All Hallows’ re-affirms our commitment to the Inclusive Church vision.