The Inclusive Language Guide

03 January 2024

We are proud of our Inclusive Language Guide.  This helps the Church hold conversations without making assumptions or inadvertently causing upset.

In this blog, the Assistant Secretary of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Michaela Youngson, explains why words are important and how the guide affirms traditional terms such as husband and wife while allowing people to express themselves using the language that is right for them.

Words in general are powerful and important and, of course, human language is changing all the time. The Methodist Church, as part of our calling to be an inclusive Church, is paying attention to the language that we use and is encouraging everyone to be careful in the words used when we are talking with and about people. We should never use offensive, racist, sexist or homophobic language but also part of loving our neighbour is to consider how they might want to be addressed or described.

Those in the life of the Church who help prepare people for special events such as baptisms, funerals and marriages will want to use language that is inclusive and reflects for those involved the language that they would choose to use for themselves. So, as well as traditional language such as ‘husband and wife’ it might be appropriate to use words such as ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’. This is not a discarding of particular terms but an opening up of our language in a way that reflects the gracious and inclusive nature of God’s love.

 As the world’s understanding of each person’s identity changes, the Church is learning more about what it means to be created in God’s image – our language about God is limited by our human understanding – as that understanding grows, so does our knowledge of the God who created us. In our guide to inclusive language we offer practical advice about how our language might be used in ways that do not exclude people, whatever their identity. We are called to love in the way that Christ loves, recognising, as St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, that in Christ Jesus we are all children of God in faith.