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Reform Magazine | August 18, 2017

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Opening Worship

Opening Worship

Church buildings have become more accessible to people of differing abilities, but,
asks Craig Bowman, how accessible is the worship that happens in them?

The church I am leading worship in is accessible to people of differing abilities. It has a ramp, moveable furniture, an accessible toilet, a hearing loop and large print hymnbooks. So the church is accessible, but how accessible is the worship itself?

My son has Fragile X Syndrome, which is the most common known cause of inherited learning disabilities. It can cause a wide range of difficulties with learning, as well as social, language, emotional, and behavioural problems. I have found this a challenge as a person of ideas and words who leads worship, and whose preparation for ministry encouraged me in this. What do I need to learn or rediscover about crafting acts of worship that enable participation for the breath of intellectual and emotional ability that is reflected in our society and should be in our churches?

In July 2014, I shared in a Council for World Mission (CWM) conference on persons with disabilities. I confess to being a little uncomfortable there. Despite its theme, “Building an Inclusive Community: Moving beyond accommodation to affirmation”, a great deal of emphasis in our discussions was put on physical accessibility and less on allowing all people to enter fully into worship…

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This is an extract from the February 2015 edition of Reform.

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