Panel discussion

The speakers from Monday afternoon’s session commented on issues raised by their presentations and answered questions.

Inclusion and welcome.

  • The language of inclusion can be unhelpful, implies exclusion and a role for gatekeepers to determine who is included or excluded.
  • The ethos of a church or organisation is more important in providing a welcome for all people.
  • The language of our liturgy can be exclusive for many people at the best of times.
  • In rural areas this is even more complicated: those who have worshipped for generations feel pushed out by newcomers who want new liturgy while newcomers feel they won’t fit and can’t get across the threshold. People are being forced out, and forced away.
  • We need to learn to function in different contexts from where we were brought up. Multiculturalism is inherent in NT theology where Hebrew, Roman and the early church cultures sat side by side as one in Christ as the basis of mutual understanding.

FiAH allocates flats on the basis of need, regardless of culture and background.

Huge cultural difference can be recognised within some churches, but we can still feel like a family.

Love within the church should explode into the community

The nature of community consultation for building projects.

  • Schemes don’t happen in isolation from physical environment.
  • Good communication helps to get the local community on board, build relationships and reduce potential fears.
  • An example was given of a housing association scheme to develop a redundant listed Victorian church building sympathetically as for housing for people with low-level learning difficulties. Providing social housing is about more than just being a landlord  it was important to engage with church and local community so that tenants could be integrated well.
  • FiAH works mainly with churches who are already thinking of engaging with the community, but don’t have the confidence and experience to run a big project on their own. The parish needs to be involved at every stage they live and work long term in the community
  • Community consultation does not always mean the same as community permission.