Jorgen Moltmann said that, ‘when others look at us in a friendly way, we feel alive and vital. When others recognise us just the way we are, we feel fulfilled. And when we feel accepted and affirmed, we are happy for we human beings need acceptance as the birds need air and the fish need water. Acceptance is the atmosphere of humanity.

Acceptance has to be an important characteristic of life at Scargill for guests and Community. The Community here is so diverse. We have people from different countries, languages, and different experiences of God. Community life is dynamic and it most definitely stretches us, yet what enriches our life is the acceptance we try and offer one another. Interestingly our particular spiritual flavour or denominational backgrounds never really come to the fore, as what is so important to the Community is to offer an accepting safe place which allows people to encounter the living God. As someone once said after a visit to Scargill, ‘It’s a safe place to say dangerous things.’

Of course, accepting people can make others think that we agree to everything they believe in, that we have the same world view or theological understanding, and that may not be the case. Accepting isn’t the same as agreeing. Bishop Chris Edmondson, in ‘Leaders Learning to Listen’, writes: ‘I believe we often confuse acceptance and agreement, or, to use a road sign analogy, giving way and giving in….acceptance and agreement are not the same.

I suppose what’s key for me about life at Scargill is not trumpeting a particular theological, or ethical stance, but being a place of love and acceptance, and to allow space for the Holy Spirit to do His renewing work in the lives of all who come to us. We want to be about ‘lives shared – lives transformed’ with Jesus at the heart. As Anne Lamott puts it, ‘God loves you as you are, and far too much to leave you as you are.’

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