Our journey across Canada takes us to Classis BC North-West for a lovely discussion with regional advocate Caroline Short.
Caroline, who is passionate about sowing seeds of disability awareness and advocacy that are carried forward by others to make a difference, has been a regional advocate for approximately eight years.
Her classis is spread over a large geographic area divided into three regions that represent a range of urban, suburban, and rural communities. The three regions consist of five churches on Vancouver Island, nine in the Lower Mainland, and five in the North-Central part of BC.
This geographical distance is one of her biggest challenges. “The distance in the classis means I can’t visit most of the churches and it is difficult to build relationships with churches.”
As a result, awareness can be hard to come by. “I’ve been grateful for opportunities to visit classis meetings, but it seems not all churches are aware of the ways Disability Concerns can support their church to be a place where everybody belongs and everybody serves.”
However, out of this challenge she sees hope and a deep potential for growth through 1Life, a joint initiative between Classis BC North-West and Classis BC South-East. The initiative coordinates and curates a curriculum of learning events that serve BC churches.
“This initiative will help me reach more people and churches with Disability Concerns resources. I am excited for the openness and vision that the leadership team at 1Life has for equipping BC CRC churches and that they are making a place for Disability Concerns.”
When asked how we as a Disability Concerns community can further support her, she doesn’t hesitate. “Prayers for new opportunities and connections would be appreciated.”
One thing Caroline feels is critical for people to consider is the diversity of disability. It’s easy to think there are no people in your church community who live with disabilities, but she advises everyone to rethink this.
“Disability is a very diverse experience and there are many different kinds of disability—some lifelong and some temporary, some visible and some invisible.”
“Disability is part of life and we ought not be ashamed or afraid of it,” she adds. “When we talk and listen to each other and make changes (big and small!) we can build a church where everybody belongs and everybody serves.”
More information about the 1Life initiative can be found at https://crc1life.ca/