An Anglican church in Lancashire has become the first in the region to sign up to a mission which aims to be inclusive of all worshippers, including LGBT people.

The St James Briercliffe church, Burnley, headed by Reverend Graham Sawyer, signed up to the Inclusive Church (IC) organisation, which aims to be fully inclusive.

As well as accepting LGBT worshippers, the IC campaign also aims to support the appointment of women priests and bishops, reports the Lancashire Telegraph.

Reverend Sawyer said: “For me, and I believe many others here, the definition of tolerance is prejudice with a smile.

“We at St James Briercliffe seek to be a congregation that accepts all people regardless and to walk alongside all.

“We also wanted to make a very clear statement in this wonderful culturally and religiously diverse town of Burnley that we wish to walk with people of other faiths and to seek to learn from their experience of God.”

As part of the mission, Reverend Sawyer will also work with Muslims, Methodists, Catholics and other denominations. The “vision statement” sets out plans to build bridges with other faiths, and the youth of Burnley.

Sawyer said he hoped that other churches would sign up to the IC mission, which was established around ten years ago.

He said: “At a time when the national church seems to be sending out confusing signals both to women and also to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, we hope we can send out an unqualified message of acceptance and welcome at St James.”

Ahead of the equal marriage bill’s third reading, Christians are being encouraged to attend organised prayer meetings near the Houses of Parliament later this month, to oppose it.