This week is the beginning of something new on the Deacon and Disability Concerns Networks. This blog is the first in a series of four which will discuss Deacons and Disabilities. Mark Stephenson and I are teaming up and will be exploring the close ties that exist between diaconal ministry and ministry to people with disabilities. In case you were uncertain, these topics can definitely walk hand in hand!
Diaconal Ministries of Canada identifies People with Disabilities as one of their key justice focus groups. They believe that people with disabilities are vulnerable to marginalization. They are right. I am sure that in many of your congregations you have people with disabilities. (Even though you may not realize it!). These individuals, their care-givers and families need support. Often the church does not know how to respond to the needs that a person with disabilities have or will limit how this person could serve in the congregation, because of judgments made about their ability.
There is a lot to learn about including people with disabilities in our worship services and congregational life. We need to have a great deal of humility and confess that in the past we have not done this well. With justice often focused toward the financial poor we sometimes fail to realize that we are marginalizing another people group right in our midst. This is why Mark and I are partnering to write this series. We want to bring an increased awareness to this topic, to create conversation, to define disabilities (so we can identify them in our congregations) and to ultimately come to a place where we see how Disability Concerns and Deacons can work together.
So, what will this blog series look like? Well, it'll look like this:
I have a secret hope (well not-so-secret now) that in spending this time sharing our wisdom and experience we will not only be able to serve people with disabilities well, but also to serve with them well. I want to ensure that every member or guest in our congregation is seen as the image of God, and not as a disability.
What would you like to see discussed in this blog series?