You are welcome here.
The last couple of years have been a tumultuous time in the UK. Our public life seems to be more divisive than ever, there has been a rise in the number of terrorist attacks, and an increase in reported hate crimes. The current climate is alarming to the vast majority of the population – whichever way they voted in recent elections and referenda. All of us have a duty to take a stand against racism and prejudice, wherever we encounter it.
On the day of Pentecost, the day the Church came into being, people from across the known world were gathered in Jerusalem, and each heard the gospel in their own language. From the start, the Church is catholic (meaning universal). In the time between Pentecost and the heavenly Jerusalem – the time in which we live – there is "no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, for all are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3.28). In the book of Revelation, in the worship of the heavenly Jerusalem, the saints are those "from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelations 5.9).
Many members of the congregation at St Mary Magdalen come from outside the UK. This is one of the aspects of the diversity of our community in which we rejoice. We are all, together, children of the same heavenly Father. The Church, since its beginnings, has been an international community, for to be so is to be a sign of the love of God for all. All are welcome here, and we need each other to be the community that God calls us to be.
We are also conscious that the discussion of equal marriage in the Church of England has left some, and particularly those who are part of the LGBT+ community, feeling that there is a question mark over their place and belonging in the Church.
So we say to you now that all are welcome here. This goes beyond welcome, to not only tolerate but to include at such a level as to allow your unique contribution to change and renew our community. We will continue to do everything we can to welcome, include and affirm both you and your relationships within our extended family here at St Mary Magdalen Church.
Whatever the Church of England claims on a national or international level, the worshipping community at St Mary Magdalen Church affirms in the strongest possible way that ALL people we encounter in our building and community are loved and created in the image of God – regardless of relationship status, sexuality, mental health, physical disability, class, race, your previous or current situation. Our ability to be Christ’s body in and for the world is impoverished if we cannot be it together.
The following is a message from the Most Rev'd Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (the Anglican Church in the USA):
Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.