Do I need to go into the church physical to enjoy it? Clearly not, but that short Sunday pilgrimage that I, and a reducing number of others, make does provide a great little window of opportunity.

Now, for centuries church and faith has been something enforced, something required - more to do with dictat, dogma and rules. My own church and faith don't have those elements. Indeed the whole approach of the Unitarian Church is fundamentally inclusive, tolerant and open. That openness applies to most things and in that respect I am grateful.

 

Indeed, let me spell it out big time. For the first time in hundreds of years there are churches, faith streams and religious communities - with the Unitarians at the forefront - where LGBTI people are welcomed and indeed treated equally including marrying each other. But being at a church is one thing, but being equal within it is quite another. Speaking to people about my faith, my approach to tolerance and about my notion of inclusivity I come back again and again to my notion of community. Community where people are open, loved, sharing and thoughtful.

So we run a small project at Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel. We call it Poetry in the Chapel Garden. Our chapel property fronts onto Rosslyn Hill, however the chapel building itself is set back from the road, this gives us a nice little garden. Over the course of the summer and continuing forwards we take poems we like, love, appreciate, we print them large print, laminate them and then hang them up in the garden environs.

Further, the Chapel hosts a small poetry group - we meet once a month - between 5-10 of us - and we share our own poems. It sounds nice and easy, but for my own paRT I found it very daunting at first. But reading my poetry out loud has given me great comfort, my poems are heard aloud by me, and by people I trust, I proof them in advance and and tidy them up. But hearing people's reactions to the words you have scribbled, rewritten and crafted if really very special and enables you to develop and explore.  I have started to stretch my wings and write bolder and in more varied styles, across broader themes, developing different notions.

The other element that is amazing is that this is a group of people - the Poetry Group - who I think would otherwise never be put together for any other purpose, and yet we come together, and we share and it works.  It really is very special and I ensure that I don't miss the monthly meeting.

So with these two initiagives: sharing our own written poetry between ouselves and then sharing published poets in our garden - we are using words and emotions to reach out and invite people in. The response has been positive and indeed welcoming. And it helps to build the notion, the intent and the reality that we are open and everyone is welcome. Come have a look and a read and maybe even, you might step last the garden and into the chapel. We will give you warm welcome indeed.