Sarah Moore: Single fair
We should be aware of our assumptions about the single life, says Sarah Moore, and make churches welcoming to all
Did you know that 40% (and rising) of adults in the UK are single? That includes people who have never been married or long-term partnered, those who are divorced, and those who are widowed. Single people with and without children. Those who are single by choice and by circumstance. Single people who are happy with their lives, and those who wish more than anything else that they had a partner. Single people are present within all parts of society. All ages. All genders and sexual identities. All races. All socio-economic groups. But while within the life of the Church we might consider that other groups have particular needs, to what extent do we consider how that is so for our single friends, neighbours and relatives? How do we care for our single neighbours? Is the experience of discipleship different for single people compared to couples?
I have been single for most of my adult life. I have known churches and society be very welcoming towards single people, and the opposite. Among the most notable experiences was attending a talk at a Christian festival where the speaker referred to ‘those who are not yet married’ (ouch). I occasionally hear the parents of an adult child soon to be married speak with a sense of relief that their progeny is finally ‘off our hands’.
Sometimes our language about family, intended to be a signal of welcome, is not received that way. I recall a friend many years ago speaking of how they went to a church on a Sunday morning, saw the service advertised on the notice board as ‘Family Worship’ and returned home, because they didn’t think that congregation would welcome them. Church can be a lonely place for the single person, particularly those who don’t fit into the category of youth. But what can churches do?..
Sarah Moore is Transition Champion for the URC National Synod of Scotland, and Assistant Clerk of the General Assembly. Commitment-Phobe will be back next month
This is an extract from an article published in the October 2021 edition of Reform