We're starting Solidarity Circles!

14 December 2022

The Revd Jill Marsh, Inclusive Church Implementation Officer, shares this blog regarding the Solidarity Circles for protected characteristics that are being established by the Methodist Church in the New Year.

Church is a place where we come together for worship, but sometimes, even surrounded by others, it can feel lonely. This might be for many reasons. Perhaps we don't feel able to share openly with other people who we think won't understand us or who may even be hostile to who we are? Maybe your Church isn't one where you feel your lived experience would be listened to or even be confident to ask for support?

In the New Year, Solidarity Circles are going to be established by the Methodist Church as part of the Strategy for Justice, Dignity and Solidarity (Methodist Conference 2021). They are online meetings which “will be a way of the Methodist Church supporting people in different diversities of the Church’s life through offering regular opportunities to meet, to support one another, and to raise with relevant Church leaders the concerns that need to be addressed.”

The first Solidarity Circles will be for Disability, LGBT+, Racial Justice and Women. Each one will be a safe space for up to 15 members to share with the Church their life experience and to learn what the organisation needs to know and change in order to be a better place for all.

To roll the scheme out, we need to find volunteer co-ordinators for each of the characteristics. The Solidarity Circle Coordinator will support the establishment and running of the Solidarity Circles. The deadline for applications will be the 13 Jan 2023 (by 9am) and you can find more details here.

During the past year we have been running two pilots for the Solidarity Circles and the feedback we have received has been very positive:

“It has given me insight into other people's lives”

“I recognise that each person is an individual whose disabilities impact them in very different ways. We are unique people and our disability is just an aspect of who we are”

“I don't like to be defined by what I can't do. The group gives positive examples of what we CAN do”

The pilot scheme's have already resulted in changes to the way the Church relates to people, so we are hopeful that they will have a significant impact on our work to be an inclusive, justice-seeking, evangelistic and growing church.

We are also encouraging local EDI Officers and EDI Teams to establish their own Solidarity Circles locally so that circuits and districts can also learn about what needs to be changed. For guidance on this, please contact equality&diversity@methodistchurch.org.uk

Once the Co-ordinators for the Connexional Solidarity Circles are in place, then we will be appointing the 14 other members of each circle, from a broad diversity of perspectives and contexts. We will be promoting participation in the New Year.

If you would like to know more, or have any questions, then do contact me, marshj@methodistchurch.org.uk