A Church of England congregation in Burnley, Lancashire, in the North West of England, has pledged to work towards an inclusive mission to welcome all worshipers regardless of sexual orientation.

Rev Graham Sawyer, at St James Briercliffe Church, has also committed to work with other religious denominations in the area having joined the Inclusive Church movement.

A key aim of the movement is to support the appointment of women bishops in the Church of England, something that has been rejected by the Church of England Synod.

Revered Sawyer told the Lancashire Telegraph:”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.”

He added: “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.”

The Church of England has opposed Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage.