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UK: Chaplains coordinate to hold 'radically inclusive' services

UK: Chaplains coordinate to hold 'radically inclusive' services
The special services aim to create a 'safe sacred space' to welcome LGBT+ Christians

By Anna Menin
https://www.varsity.co.uk/news/13792
October 19, 2017

College chaplains from King's, Trinity, and St John's are holding a series of special services in their chapels which aim to provide "inclusive spaces" for LGBT+ Christians to "encounter God". A total of six special services have or will be held across the three colleges this term, the next of which will be King's College's 'Critical Mass' service on 26 October.

Trinity College chapel will host a Compline+ service on 1 November, followed by another King's service on 9 November. St John's Open Table service on 16 November will conclude the series.

Critical Mass services at King's are billed as "a new kind of worship for students" which is "radically inclusive for all who have open hearts and open minds." Reverend Andrew Hammond, of King's, told Varsity that his decision to hold Critical Mass was inspired by the reaction of students to his duet with drag queen Courtney Act at King's Affair earlier this year, which he described as "extraordinary".

"[It] really brought home to me how widespread is the view that a priest is bound to be rather hidebound and conservative", he continued, "and made me realise how much work there is to do.

"King's has been famous for its liberal approach to any number of issues, not least sexuality and more recently gender identity; and while we have felt wholly in tune with this in the Chapel, our formal worship doesn't really allow us to articulate it much," Hammond added.

Rev Carol Barrett Ford, St John's College chaplain, told Varsity that she decided to hold an Open Table service after identifying "a desire to actively promote inclusion in the Chapel". The service will be part of the Open Table organisation, which describes itself as an "ecumenical Christian worship community" offering "a warm welcome" to LGBT+ people, and "all who believe in an inclusive Church". It holds services at various places around the UK.

Barrett Ford described the upcoming service as "a relaxed and informal Eucharistic service" which might also contain "poetry, music, video clips and/or silence". She said that it would be "a safe sacred space", adding: "The 'tagline' for Open Table is 'Come as you are' -- and it really is as simple as that."

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