Inclusion & Exclusion

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Yesterday I was in Wetherspoons talking to Emily… ‘What does inclusion in church look like?’… ‘Should church be inclusive?’

When I was teaching our school was ‘comprehensive’. We welcomed everybody… identifying the strengths, weaknesses, gifts… providing a broad and balanced curriculum… allowing all to flourish.

There were ‘Gifted and Talented’, those with ‘Special Educational Needs’… to say nothing of their parents!

However when the behaviour of one child disrupted the comfort and education of others… including one at the expense of others? If parents judged our school by its results… should some children should be included or excluded?

We’ve been reminded of the life of Sir David Amess, fatally stabbed in October. Following a memorial service in Southend on Monday there was the Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral yesterday.  

The great and the good, ordinary people on the streets in Southend, talked about his kindness, humour, passion and friendship to all – regardless of their political or religious persuasions. He supported and identified with the disabled and disadvantaged. Sir David both knew about and practiced inclusion.

We have inclusive bird feeders in our garden. Sparrows, chaffinches, blue tits, robins… blackbirds, magpies, pigeons, jays… all are welcome. The sparrow hawk occasionally visits but I think he has other ideas of inclusion.

The Church’s history has been full of inclusion and exclusion… Roman Catholic, Church of England, non-conformist… in or out.

Puritans included those who were ‘pure’ and excluded those who weren’t. Baptists, Pentecostals, Brethren… all say who’s included… by implication who’s excluded.

Issues such as women ‘in ministry’, homosexuality and broader sexual issues bring church division and exclusion…

…Jesus welcomed all – rich and poor, Jew and gentile, moral and immoral, saying things like: ‘Come to me all who are weary’, without condition or qualification

…Paul wrote things like: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’

…I’m left musing… Emily’s question… inclusion and exclusion…

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