What It Means to Say "Everybody Belongs"
March 10, 2020
Updated March 19, 2020
2 comments 158 views
Disability Concerns continues to work with churches across North America to ensure that we are living into our mission: Everybody Belongs. Everybody Serves. We connect with Regional Disability Advocates, equipping and supporting them so that they in turn can reach out to the Church Disability Advocates to offer support specific to their community. We encourage our advocates to connect with one another, learning from one another.
This past year, Pastor Ken Vander Horst from Smithers CRC in British Columbia, reached out to Disability Concerns to explore ways to support a family with children living with significant needs. Together, Disability Concerns staff, a Regional Disability Advocate, and Pastor Ken discussed what it means to be in community as a church body. Sometimes we can have traditional ideas of what worship should look like, without always making room for the fact that God makes us all unique, and we all have different ways of expressing ourselves.
At Smithers CRC, when Pastor Ken leads the call to worship, what it means for Hans, one of 3 siblings with high needs, is that it is time to approach the pastor and give him a “high-five.” As Pastor Ken remarks, it is “a wonderful, sincere, and perfectly acceptable way of greeting someone in our community—and praise God!—in our church services as well.”
It means offering Hans space to move around during the service. In addition, the church plans to hire a “worship service care attendant” who can respond to the very specific needs of Hans and his siblings as they worship alongside their church community. Smithers CRC demonstrates a true understanding of what it means to “all belong.”
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As a parent with kids with different needs I like the idea of a church hiring a worship service care attendant. There would be a specific person we would connect with who could answer questions and step in and help with no judgement. What kind of training would this person have?
Hi Hilda! Thanks for the affirmation of the idea. At Smithers CRC we have a number of contacts in our community who work in special needs human services, and reached out to one in particular who has training and experience through the organization she serves. In that way we were blessed with qualified people to ask. Any church does well to give careful thought to a clear "job description" and ensuring that the attendant have the requisite skills!
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