5 June 2023 Off By Rev. Kate Tuckett

As your parish churches in Wolvercote and Wytham, we have been grappling over recent months with what it means to be inclusive. At the time of writing, St Peter’s PCC has agreed to join the Inclusive Church network, and All Saints’ Wytham will be deciding at the end of May whether to join as well. Keep an eye on our websites for more information about this.

Inclusive Church is an established network of churches uniting together around a shared vision to celebrate and affirm every person, and not to discriminate. Inclusive Church has often been associated with issues around sexuality, but their work is broader than this, also focusing on inclusion in the areas of disability, ethnicity, gender, mental health and poverty.

We live in a culture that prides itself on inclusivity, but the evidence is to the contrary. ‘Exclusive’ is used as a positive attribute for homes, holidays, cars, gyms, restaurants, clothing and other consumer goods that are out of reach of most people. Our world is enormously divided and the gap between rich and poor grows ever greater. And while our devices offer us myriad ways of communication, chronic individualism and loneliness abound. The sense of belonging to a community may be one of the great hungers of our society. 

As your parish churches we want to offer places of welcome and hospitality to all. We’re the first to admit that we don’t always get it right. We share the lament of the wider Church of England for the pain that has been inflicted upon LGBTQ+ people and other marginalised groups. And we certainly don’t claim to hold any monopoly on welcome, inclusion, hospitality or community-building. We’ve been glad to take part in the village-wide conversations about the use of the room on the Mill Site, where I have been reminded of the strength of commitment to community in this place. I’m looking forward to the Wolvercote Festival, where I know this positive energy will be very visible.

And yet still we want to try. We do so imperfectly, because we are all imperfect people, and inclusion means rubbing along with and trying to work with people who irritate, wrong and sometimes hurt us, whose politics, beliefs or personality may drive us round the bend. But however clumsily we do so, we are open and available to all who want to belong. 

There are a few ways that you can come and see what we’re about. Details of our regular worship services can be found on our websites, or by phoning St Peter’s parish office on 01865 452164. On the Second Sunday of the month we offer an evening contemplative service at St Peter’s, and on the afternoon of the fourth Sunday, a Messy Church, with crafts, food and fun. Most months we have a pub discussion group at The Plough. On Monday afternoons we have been pleased to welcome Ukrainian guests to a Friendship Centre at St Peter’s, and are now developing this into a wider community drop-in, with board games, refreshments, and chat. Both of our churches are open during the day and all are welcome – those of all faiths and no faith.  

Please do get in touch if there is anything you would like to see us doing, or if there are ways that we can be more proactive about being welcoming, hospitable and inclusive. We are your churches, and we are here for you.