Space at the table
How churches are ensuring that disabled people can fulfil their potential there, by Ros Bayes
In a church in Lancashire, the congregation is gathering for worship. The one thing that members have in common is that they all have learning disabilities. The worship includes music, drama, Makaton signing and sensory Bible stories involving water, sand, a toy boat and an electric fan. At the end of the service, the congregation depart having experienced worship with which they can fully engage, teaching from which they can benefit and grow spiritually, and the opportunity to share with others their own experience of God.
Meanwhile, in Leicestershire, another congregation is assembling. Stewards stand at the door handing out notices and songsheets in large print and Braille for those members who can’t read the song from a projector screen. No one is excluded by blindness or partial sight from participating in worship or obtaining the information available to other members.
At a church in Birmingham, the congregation is composed largely of deaf people, so all the services are conducted in British Sign Language. However, because there are also hearing members of the congregation, services are interpreted into English. This church is aware that some of its members have other disabilities, and so it contacts Through the Roof, the Christian disability charity I work for, to request some training in how to make church accessible to autistic people…
Ros Bayes is Training Resources Developer for Through the Roof. www.throughtheroof.org
This is an extract from an article that was published in the February 2019 edition of Reform