The Church at Carrs Lane meets in the very centre of Birmingham.
We are a diverse, gathered, open, growing and welcoming Christian community drawn from a wide variety of faith backgrounds. We believe in the importance of engaging directly with the wider life of the city in all its glorious – and sometimes painful – variety. We are growing in confidence as we seek to be ‘incarnational’ Christian presence in the city. Much of what we do has a commitment to justice at its heart; this is a church which deliberately seeks to be inclusive; it is also a church in which honest questions and careful thinking are encouraged.
Birmingham continues to change very rapidly; the ‘Education Quarter’ is growing quickly on our doorstep. The church is located on the edge of the city centre’s major retail experience and it is very likely that the terminus for HS2 will be located a few hundred metres away from us. We are utterly committed to providing a wide range of opportunities for Christian worship, service and witness at the heart of the city.
Prayer in the city, for the city, is offered daily by members of the intentional Christian Community based at Carrs Lane. An increasing diversity of opportunities for worship is being developed – given our location, ‘one-size-fits-all’ worship offered only on a Sunday morning is not an option.
As a Methodist-URC LEP, we are committed to the fullest possible levels of co-operation and resource-sharing; when we became a ‘shared’ church in November 2011, we regarded this as the start of an exciting journey, not simply an end in itself. We are blessed with some very capable, committed people, financial resources which bring with them a considerable degree of responsibility and a prime location, which together mean that church life is never dull or routine! We are seeking to improve on our current pattern of monthly meetings in which everybody is encouraged to have a voice; when our Guiding Principles talk of, ‘responding to the rhythms of the city’, we are at pains to ensure that this is an accurate description of what we seek to do.
We are an inclusive church. We made rainbow banners to fly at Birmingham Pride. We wrote, ‘all are welcome!’ and with that, ‘Diversity, Love and Respect’ to it, because that is the way in which ‘all our welcome’ in this Church: in respect and love of difference, accepting each other as people made in God’s image. There are of course ways all of us need to grow and change, but we want to be clear that this is a safe space in which we are diverse.
We are an inclusive Church and have registered as such, because we realised that people coming to our city who are LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex +) would not know that our church is diverse and inclusive, or that LGBTQI+ people are accepted and treated equally in church life, including equal opportunities to be involved and hold office.
So we are registered with Inclusive Church and Visible Congregations not to mark a change in the nature of our church, but as a commitment to being more visible and to letting people know ‘this is who we are’ as a church. We are a diverse Church already and others are welcome to come and be diverse with us!
We have bought the Inclusive Church series of books and are exploring broader inclusivity. The books are about Inclusive Church and… Mental Health, Poverty, Gender, Sexuality, Disability, Ethnicity. So we hope to grow and develop and become increasingly inclusive and grow in our understanding.