Inclusivity (All Are Welcome)

Featured Image: Asana drink.jpg Fquasie, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


“Inclusivity was a large and broad category into which was assigned all mentions of issues to do with
Church teaching and behaviour which did not afford equality to various groups. The language of
equality somewhat masks the underlying pain, sadness and deep feeling caused by the restrictions
which lead to the call for equality. Equal opportunities for women in all roles in the church
organization, as well as ordination, was the most frequently mentioned, to the extent that in the final
synodal meeting it was felt strongly by some that this should be a separate category to acknowledge
the significant weight of feeling behind this view although this wasn’t possible due to time constraints.
There was dissatisfaction with the lack of equality of opportunity for the laity to share in collaborative
ministry. There were suggestions that there should be more ecumenical effort and development of
relationships with other faiths. Divorced and remarried expressed great hurt at their exclusion.
LGBTQA+ were specified as a group who were particularly excluded by the church and all who
mentioned this wanted things to change. Other suggestions for a more inclusive church were for access
for other disabilities such as deaf and blind. Wheelchair access was greatly appreciated as were
translations. A group for men and for different age groups was also mentioned. The church was seen
as intolerant in practice and the aspiration was for an open, welcoming church. Inclusive communion
was suggested by some, with particular regrets where a person couldn’t share communion with a non
Catholic Christian partner. Blessings for same-sex couples were also seen as ways of being more
In some parishes the task of making the parish more welcoming was already being addressed as a
direct result of the synodal conversations. It was noted that different Mass times tended to create their
own communities, and made recommendations for occasional social events for the different groups.
The strength of feeling about the misogyny and inequality in the treatment of women also led to the
appeal to ‘ressourcement’, the searching out of previously held truths from earlier times of the churches
“Give women access to roles in the modern church that they had in the early church”

from The Synthesis Report on Hallam Diocese Synodal Journey by the Diocese of Hallam: April 2022
This retreat material uses the diocesan synod report as the basis of a prayer journey. The themes raised in synod meetings by the people of God in the diocese of Hallam were gathered into a synthesis report which Bishop Ralph conveyed to the Bishops  Conference of England and Wales. This was incorporated into the Continental report sent to Rome in 2022. While these are not necessarily his views, Bishop Ralph is fully supportive of the synodal process and encourages the synodal method of Conversations in the Spirit, prayerful reflection and further discernment with these themes.

Opening prayer

If you are using this prayer by yourself at home, then remember that you are not alone. You are a valued member of this group, you are sharing this retreat together. Each person will pray and ponder in their own time and place, but the Spirit is with each and every one and all of you. You are together in God.

A:       God, you have gathered all your people in Synod,
We give you thanks for the joy experienced by those who decided to set out
to listen to God and to their brothers and sisters, with an attitude of welcome
humility and siblinghood. Help us to enter these pages as on “holy ground”.

A: Creator of the world, eternal God,
B: we come together from our own places for a little while.

A: Redeemer of humanity, God with us,
B: we have come with all our differences seeking common respect

A: Spirit of unity, go-between God,
B: we have come with stories of our own to a place where stories meet.

A: So here, in this space, let us take time together. for when your people gather and stories are shared, there is much to celebrate and honour.
B: In your name, three in one God, pattern of community. Amen.

Adapted from “Iona Abbey Worship Book”, 2001. copyright © WGRG, Iona Community, Glasgow, Scotland. Reproduced by permission.

Summary of the Diocesan Report

  • Women’s role in the Church.
  • Reclaiming the model of early Church with any role open to all including ordination, according to the discernment of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • “A Church that welcomes everyone and gives equal respect to all children of God; women, people with disabilities, LGBTQA+, children, divorced and remarried.”
  • The pain and sadness caused by Church teaching and behaviour which doesn’t afford equality. Opportunities for collaborative ministry with priests.

A. First impressions

  • What I like about this summary is ………
  • What I do not like about this summary is ……..
  • This summary makes me feel ……..


John 4:4 – 29

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am He.”

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Points to Ponder

  • Jesus breaks the cultural rules of his time by talking to a Samaritan, and being alone in her company.
  • Consider her life story – she has been married 5 times and was now living with a man. Her life seems precarious and unstable ….. and yet she was to become a bearer of the Good News to her community.

Reflect, Respond. Share

B. Reflect

  • In this passage Jesus is saying to me …
  • My response to this is …
  • This makes me feel …

C. Respond

  • If I was to review my responses to parts A and B I would say …
  • Something I have discovered is …

D. Share

  • A few days later, read what you have written for C. Is there something that you are comfortable to share with the group? It could be what you have written, or maybe a poem, painting or photo could better express what you want to say.

Closing prayer

A: As we continue in our retreat together, in this day and in our lives
B: May we be grateful for the blessings of this day, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for the new stories and new ways of thinking we have explored, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for kind company, heedful to God, heedful to ourselves and heedful to each other, today and each day

A. We pray for God’s mercy
B. For the structures and prejudices which have maintained seperation
A. We pray for God’s healing
B. On all who have been harmed
A. We pray for God’s empathy and respect
B. As we reach out to those we regard as different to ourselves
A. We pray for God’s courage
B.  As we work for reform
A.  We pray for God’s Wisdom
B.  As we discern together the way forward towards welcoming all
A: God from whom all gifts come, who shares our adventure, and delights in our friendship
B: We thank you for your presence with us as we continue in our retreat this day, and each day of our lives. Amen