From inclusivity to a charitable move
I was delighted to read the letter from Elizabeth Redfern and Alistair Heslop (5 October), in which they described seeing an ‘inclusive church’ on a walk in Ledbury.
I am the first non-Anglican national coordinator of the ecumenical charity Inclusive Church and that church is in our network.
All churches that sign up as inclusive churches are sent the ‘colourful’ poster mentioned. We work with churches on different areas of inclusion, like disability and sexuality.
I would welcome any opportunities to work with Quaker Meetings on inclusion. Our trustees are currently discussing how to be more inclusive (!) of Quaker Meetings who want to work with us, as signing up to a ‘statement of belief’ can be a barrier for Quaker Meetings. We want to find a way round this, as it is incredibly important for us to work with all denominations.
The young girl who committed suicide (mentioned in the letter) was a teenager called Lizzie Lowe. She attended an evangelical Anglican church. Her death was tragic, not least because she said in a suicide note that it was because she couldn’t reconcile her faith and sexuality.
The vicar of the church and the congregation have since utterly transformed the church into one of the most prominently inclusive in the country. The vicar has spoken about Lizzie to churches all over the country and abroad.
I feel honoured to see the transformation so many churches can go through as they learn about how important it is to be inclusive.
National coordinator, Inclusive Church
As a Quaker prisoner, I was shocked to learn of the government’s plan to withdraw funding for the Circles of Support and Accountability service.
In a time when support for sex offenders on release appears to be rapidly decreasing, why would the government choose to stop funding such an important service?
I have met many of the volunteers who work as part of the Circles team. The support and encouragement they offer is, in my opinion, essential for successful rehabilitation and integration back into society.
Contrary to popular belief, many prisoners have recognised their crimes and the effect they have had on their victims, and on their families and friends. They want nothing more than to try to put right the wrongs they have committed.
It is refreshing to know that there are Friends who can see beyond our crimes and who recognise that Circles is a living example of Quakers doing something that looks for that of God in everyone.
I am lucky enough to have a strong, supportive Quaker Meeting, attended by Friends both inside and outside of the prison wall. Our Quaker friends who visit us are some the most genuine people I have met. They give us all so much strength and hope.
So many of us are broken, but determined to mend and change our lives for the better. The support Circles offer helps many of us turn our lives around and rebuild relationships with those we have let down so badly.
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