People living with disabilities (all those living with a physical, intellectual, sensory or psychiatric disability) are people formed by God (Psalm 139) and confirmed by Jesus as being welcomed at the Kingdom table (Luke 14);
People living with disabilities have often been excluded from the community of God’s people throughout the history of the church, reflecting the social devaluation present in the society that surrounds us.
Given one of our Shared Values is to “value the dignity, equality and inherent worth of all persons, and to work for their justice and equal opportunity”; and we aim “to participate in bringing the Kingdom of God to earth through practices of inclusion, justice, fairness and hospitality”,
We therefore seek, to repent of any instances of exclusion, and to become a true body of Christ where we celebrate that “those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary for us to be complete” (1 Corinthians 12: 22).
In so doing, we recognise that, there are many obstacles, including attitudinal barriers, for people with disabilities, their families and carers, which prevent them hearing the gospel and sharing in Christian fellowship, which we have not always considered;
People with disabilities and their families are an important part of our churches and communities and both need our support and the opportunities to serve and be served;
Jesus made himself vulnerable for us (Philippians 2:7-8), and we can discover true community through the leadership of those who live with the vulnerability of disability. This contribution can bring growth to all of us and deep relationship with God and our neighbour. Jean Vanier, writing about living in community with people with an intellectual disability, says: “Loving someone means, of course, wanting to do things for them, but more essentially it means being present to them. Presence involves helping the person to see their beauty and value, to trust themselves and to grow humanly to greater maturity. Loving involves letting others see my own poverty, and giving them space to love me.” (Jean Vanier The Heart of L’Arche: A spirituality for every day)
Theology of the Disabled
02 Aug 2015
Speaker Neil Taylor
Text 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
As a community of hope & compassion committed to the core value "that everyone Belongs", how do we as a church family give dignity and honour to those less able or capable, and in so facilitate their inclusion.