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Six ways to be an inclusive church

If you’ve never felt unwelcome in a worshipping community it might be hard to understand how many people experience church. Journey explores how to make sure your church is truly inclusive.

1Indigenous Australians

The Uniting Church sees reconciliation with Indigenous people as essential to the life and health of the church and Australian society. Including an acknowledgement of country before a service or meeting is respectful. Your congregation can make a deeper connection through activities like About FACE or through working with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.

2People with disabilities

There are all kinds of visible and invisible barriers that can sometimes literally stop someone from getting to church. Does your church have a wheelchair ramp to the sanctuary? Does everyone speak into the microphone clearly? Aim to make every aspect of your church disability inclusive.

3People with mental health issues

Be a safe space where mental health issues can be discussed openly, without stigma. Don’t suggest that their diagnosis relates to the strength (or otherwise) of their faith. Remember: issues relating to mental health are just one part of the person; don’t define people by this alone.

4People from other cultures and languages

Cultural diversity is a gift, but avoid tokenism. Instead, integrate the diverse cultural backgrounds into worship by choosing leaders of other cultures and language groups. Free them up to develop themes in sermons and prayers that draw widely from different cultural sources and concerns. Over time, genuine openness to cultural diversity will transform the way you are church.

5LGBTI people and their families

Are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people able to contribute to your community of faith? Avoid setting up barriers to participation by learning and using the kind of language LGBTI people use to describe themselves. Also, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t cut it; instead, allow people to know you and to be known without judgement.

6Single people

Do single people feel welcome at your “family service”? Church is often an awkward place for singles. “Is there something wrong? Why haven’t you met Mr/Ms Right yet?” Even if you think they’re a catch, resist the urge to set them up on a blind date with your grandchild—God might have other plans. Be mindful, too, of those who are widowed or divorced.

One comment

  1. Rev.Devadosan Sugirtharaj

    The Seventh Way to be Inclusive Church: Refugees

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