Sunday, October 12, 2008

An Inclusive Church - for people of all abilities

Nearly all public buildings, including churches, have had to make adjustments to increase accessibility for people with disabilities. I hope this doesn't stop with a wheelchair ramp.

People with all kinds of disabilities still struggle to find an equal and accepted place throughout our society. I must admit, I think this is one of the areas that we do fairly well at Brunswick. We have a number of social programs that run throughout the week that cater for people with disabilities including a couple that are specifically targeted at this client group - a music program and a supported employment program. On any given Sunday our congregation is likely to include a fair number of people with physical and intellectual disabilities as well as those with mental health problems.

Of course this creates a number of challenges: there are quite a few who can't read the song words; any rhetorical question will usually be answered out loud; many people have great difficulty sitting through the entire meeting; we have compulsive attention-seekers that can be disruptive; and of course it's always problematic to pitch the sermon so that it fits the whole group. However, after a few years of having done this now, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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