This article is a part of the Spring 2021 Disability Concerns Canada Newsletter. In this newsletter, every edition will focus on a different Canadian classis and introduce you to its regional advocate.
There will be stories told about the many losses and changes from COVID-19. However, there have been some things gained. One obvious thing to me has been how online meetings and church services have created the possibility to include people who were often excluded.
A friend of mine is an amazing mom and wife. She is a writer and disability activist, and also happens to have mobility issues. Typically, we are both invited to an international conference every year, the annual Disability Concerns Leadership Training. She has never been able to attend because of the complications of flying with a power wheelchair. This year, the conference was hosted via Zoom—for the first time in all these years, she was able to attend.
I am hearing from families who are attending church for the first time in years because it is online. My own church in Calgary has been offering Zoom Church for the past year. This has allowed people to attend who normally could not—even from a hospital bed. Our missionaries all over the world have been able to join us Sunday mornings for the first time ever. We have had people join from a hospital bed, or while camping and traveling. Technology is not perfect – and there have been lots of blips along the way – but we are worshiping and learning together online the best way we can. It matters!
My church is now hosting both an in-person service and a Zoom service. It is all happening at the same time, and we are realizing the importance of keeping both. The key to success will be to keep connecting with those people online who are not able to come in person. Community is online too!
My one encouragement is to take note of what is working better than it was before and protect that. Let us not lose the little things we have gained. Who is being included now that was not before? How can we protect this as we shift back to more in-person events? I am thankful for our learning journey as I think about our imperfect, and genuine Zoom Church services. It matches our messy, real and loving community!
Cara Milne – proud member of River Park Church in Calgary and Disability Concerns Advocate.
Find out more about Cara’s work at her website.