Tomorrow the first meeting of the Diocese of Christchurch's Strategic Working Group will take place. Our role, in broad terms, is to think about the 'big picture' for the Diocese in this new 'post quake era.' Concurrently the Diocese is holding three consultations concerning what the people of the Diocese want to say about important values in respect of the guidelines which will shape designs for new and restored buildings.
Speaking again in broad terms, I sense a strong aspect of the voices speaking up at this time is engagement with the community around us: we want buildings that can serve our communities and ministries within those buildings which are outward looking. Another way to say this could be to talk about new futures for Anglican churches which enhance accessibility of our churches. Our gospel mission is not solely about how we can get people into our churches, but the fact is that once some kind of building exists as a church building there is always a question of whether people feel drawn past its doors or inhibited from approaching the doors - no matter how many signs are erected saying "All welcome."
In my own reflecting on these things I am wondering whether the term 'catholic' which lies at the heart of being Anglican is related to accessibility. If 'catholic' is about the universality of the church - what we believe and practice and whether it is the belief and practice of all, some or just a few - then 'catholic' intrinsically relates to accessibility. Can all, some or just a few access what the church offers in its gatherings?
But this - my musings continue - is more than a question of whether the doors to a church building are open or not or whether all people are welcome to come in to participate, it is also a question of whether what we do within the church building is accessible to whomever might enter. Our liturgies in the 21st century also need to be accessible.
Well, I will stop there, just before poking a stick in a hornet's nest!