Congregational resources

Sometimes as we unite for change, it is also about changing us, ourselves, our community, our approach. Why is Disability advocacy something that is connected with our faith? What can we do as part of our congregations and our communities of faith? Here you can find resources that may help. We will keep adding to them. And would love to hear what else might be helpful.

Blinded Heart

Rev (Deacon) Andy Calder is responsible for oversight of Disability Inclusion for the Vic-Tas Synod. On ABC Radio National recently, he reflected on theology and practice of inclusion and exclusion of disability in the Church. 
 
Blinded Heart
Kerry Stewart
ABC Radio National
13 April 2013
 
David Routledge: ...Today we’re hearing Christians, Jews and Muslims reveal their experiences of inclusion and exclusion and we’re asking why people belonging to faiths that are based on love, compassion and community are so often blind to people with disabilities.
 
Andy Calder: ...When we consider that one in five people have disability and you look at faith communities, and I’m particularly talking about Christian faith communities and the ones that I represent, that same representation of percentage just isn’t there. So we have to ask the question, why might that be?
 
It’s a problematic term, this one, ‘inclusion’, and I struggle with it in terms of my own job title. But for me it’s not about a group of people who have all of the power and all of the wherewithal to include a so-called weaker group of people or individuals; rather, there is a strong onus, I think, on people like myself and all church people to look very closely and examine the structures, the attitudes, the prejudices, the theology that in fact is excluding of people’s participation.
 
And, you know, everybody’s enriched by the diversity. And I think congregations as they exist today are denied the gifts, the skills, the presence of people who historically have either been shunned or have experienced exclusionary practices. So I want to actually take this opportunity to, as a Uniting Church minister, to say a heartfelt apology to all people who have been at the raw end of such experiences within the Uniting Church. And we certainly want to redress that as far as we possibly can into the future...
 
Kerry Stewart: Is Jesus to blame here, too? I mean he certainly did a lot of miraculous cures, so would disabled people be better off if he’d just said, ‘Your life is perfect the way it is’?
 
Andy Calder: Yes, many people with disabilities have, or I have had conversations along those lines. And whilst the healing stories of Jesus are there for us to interpret for our day, we need to be very careful that they aren’t interpreted in a way that perpetuates the sense that healing is about the physical cure, that, rather, it is about people being restored to a full humanity, a full life in relation to other people: their friends, their family, those who they love, the wider community.
 

Disability liturgy and worship resource

Disability reform has featured in public debate in recent months. In March 2013, the Federal Parliament passed legislation for a National Disability Insurance Scheme which aims to meet the individual needs and aspirations of people with disability. 
 
But even with this historic scheme in place, there are people living with disability who will receive little or no support to maintain the means to live a decent life. Some live isolated, vulnerable lives on the fringes of society. But with the right support, it’s possible for everyone to live as valued members of society, with dignity and respect. 
 
This worship resource has been written so that it can be used on any Sunday (or other gathering time). It does not include a suggested sermon or message, but provides some thoughts that might be useful as you prepare material appropriate for your community and your setting. 
 
View this worship resource here.  
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