All are welcome? Singleness & asexuality
In a new column Alex Clare-Young speaks to a range of people from around the URC about their experiences of church and what welcome might feel like, for them
I wonder what feeling genuinely welcome means to you. In this column I will be speaking to a range of people from around the United Reformed Church about their experiences of church and what welcome might feel like, for them. In churches, we hope to be able to say ‘All are Welcome!’, but sometimes it is hard to know where to start. In talking about Equality and Diversity, I regularly meet people who have felt less than welcome in churches. That needs to change.
In the UK, the Equality Act (2010) protects people from discrimination on the grounds of the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. Are churches honouring this protection? What do these characteristics mean for the experiences that people have as members of local churches? Are all genuinely welcome and treated justly in our pews or chairs?
This month, I have been hearing from a minister, who has asked to remain anonymous due to the stigma they face, about their experiences of being both single and asexual. Their testimony reminds us how isolating it can feel when churches focus on family values to the exclusion of single, celibate, and asexual people. They highlight the importance of three valuable tips:
- Don’t assume. Not everyone wants or needs a partner and family, and that is OK.
- Pay attention to, and value, the gifts that single people bring to your church congregation.
- Ensure that church services and events don’t centre around families but, rather, welcome and affirm all….
The minister featured in this column has asked to remain anonymous
This is an extract from an article published in the November 2022 edition of Reform