church of the not-fitting-in-people

Welcoming as many diverse people into God’s story doesn’t necessarily mean to cut things out to make things more accessible. I suppose the problem is that we don’t know exactly what “the others” find appealing in church. Maybe they love those 19th century hymns. Maybe they are irritated but at the same time fascinated by the traditional language service once a month. What I have learned from the community at St Thomas Becket, Hamburg (STB) is that it really works just to be together with different people, to listen to their stories, and tell them: Well, this place, St Thomas Becket, is your home too!

But why does that work at STB? I guess it’s because the community is a very diverse community already in itself. There are people from so many different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. In one way or the other the people of STB are different from the “Leitkultur”, the mainstream middle class culture of German society. Because we are strangers or foreigners or not-fitting-in-people we appreciate our community and we love to offer being welcomed and at home to as many people as possible.

And back to the question of changing or adapting things: These are things which we can work out together. But that happens in the interaction and not beforehand with just speculations about what could be done to make things “easier” so that more people can connect with it. The Story is not our story, the Home is not our home. Only because we understand “the others” as already being part of that Story can we welcome them and even learn from them.

(Of course Sister Sarcastic Lutheran explained it much better.)

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