Leading the way on Equality and Diversity
The Diocese of Truro is leading the way nationally in its work on Equality and Diversity. The work of the diocese has proved so successful that others across the country have been looking to Truro for advice.
Truro Diocese Equality and Diversity committee meet four times a year and cover everything from the size of print in publications to organising a Dementia Action Day.
John Murfitt, the adviser to the committee, said: “It is very encouraging that people are looking at the diocese website and finding the link to Equality and Diversity including useful information on disability. They are then able to contact us and often ask searching and professional questions. They are amazed that despite our geographical distance from London, we are at the forefront of change and have been ahead of others in their own diocese in both our thinking and practice.”
Most recently John has been assisting enquirers from the Diocese of Portsmouth and the Diocese of Gloucester. John said: “The diocese of Portsmouth were keen to know how to better support churches to understand disability and how to treat severely disabled adults fairly. The Diocese of Gloucester has been looking at how they can challenge congregations to understand and provide for those who are in the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community in their congregations. We were able to help both either over the phone or by sending them an audit we had designed here in Truro.”
One of the biggest challenges facing the committee and John in his work is a lack of understanding about the implication and application of the 2010 Single Equality Act. John said: “In every diocese including our own there are many people including some in leadership, who don’t fully understand the importance of the work we do or how the Act affects people in our faith communities, meetings and services. Through our work we are raising awareness and through this doing our part to influence the spreading of the Kingdom nationally and locally in which there is inclusion based on a gospel of love and equal treatment of all.”
Archdeacon Audrey Elkington, who is chair of the Equality and Diversity Committee, said: “Equality and diversity covers such a broad remit that it could be easy for our churches just to bury their heads in the sand. I am delighted the committee includes dedicated, experienced and gifted people who are happy to give of their time and energies in helping our parishes to ensure that church life is accessible and welcoming to all. Our concern is to allow all people to be touched and changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Bishop Tim said: “Issues of equality and diversity are so important and are at the heart of the Gospel. Jesus welcomed one and all and attended to everyone. We are called on to do the same and that is not easy. There are times when we appear to miss people or seem to avoid difficult issues and questions. I am very pleased indeed that the committee keeps ensuring we get our priorities right and helps us all address the hard issues and questions.”