(This topic was the theme of KMC’s Cafe Church on Sunday 5th May).
The initials stand for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. The Church Council is a formal body, and makes decisions on behalf of the wider congregation. The Congregational Reps thought it might be useful to be able to outline terms, which might arise in the activities of the Church and its Council. We will try and expand on this terminology, so that all of us can better understand.
“Equality” is one of those words, which when we say it, we all probably have an idea of what we mean. But do our ideas match the official definitions?
Currently there are laws governing “Equality” which apply to everyone. But as a church we also have a duty to reflect on how God wants us to act.
Equality is about recognizing that everyone is different, yet treating them with equal respect and ensuring they have equal access to all facilities. We then understand these differences and recognize that there are times when some people may need additional support. Others may be different but do not need any additional support.
Hence it does not mean ‘everybody being the same’, nor everybody being treated the same. We are all tempted to ‘pigeonhole’ people or stereotype them. We must not exclude people on our assumptions, which will then lead to people’s gifts and talents being ignored and also to them being excluded.
The law has a framework which applies to our Church Council and Methodism as a whole. But as Christians does this challenge us to think and pray further?
Human beings are ‘created in the image’ of God is a clear theme in the first chapter of Genesis. Jesus touched people who were outcasts of the traditional society (literally touched a leper in Mark 1:39-45). He ate with tax collectors. He forgave men and women who had caused outrage in society (Luke 7:36-50). Paul makes it very clear in Galatians 3:28, that there is no longer Jew or Greek. This would have been a huge move towards Equality for those both hearing and reading these words.
There are many instances where Jesus demonstrated that He treated everyone with equal respect and encouragement, even though they were ‘different’ people.
How does all of this apply to KMC and to its Church Council? Firstly, it is important that we all understand that there are legal guidelines which must be followed. Secondly, we can think and pray about how it might challenge us. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26). On this occasion, Jesus had talked to a woman who also was probably an outcast because of her previous behaviour. Also, she was a Samaritan, normally the Jews were prejudiced against all Samaritans.
Jesus challenged the disciples and the leaders of the day because he welcomed diversity, and was completely inclusive in his openness to love and forgive. In doing this Jesus showed complete ‘equality’ and yet did not compromise in his biblical, moral and ethical teaching.
Do come along to the Café Church in May when we will have the opportunity to discuss this further.