DLT is soon to publish a new series to help churches everywhere to be equipped to welcome all people who live with disability or a mental health issue. Each title contains first-hand personal experiences of people such as Susan, who have felt excluded from churches because of either their disability or their mental health, theological reflection, resources, addresses, websites and practical advice for making churches more inclusive.
Susan has epilepsy. But not the kind where she needs to seek medical attention: "My arms jerk and my head jerks and my voice gets louder and sometimes I bark like a seal. I look weird. People seem to think I can control what is happening to me". "My biggest problem with epilepsy is other people".
There are over 40 different types of epileptic seizures, only five of which are triggered by flashing lights. Some are triggered by sounds, and four years ago Susan developed a simple focal seizure of this kind. She says: "I can’t be near a saxophone, but can stand beside a bagpipe all day" and yet routine noise from construction work, a cappuccino machine, to the low hum of muted conversation can be dangerous and debilitating.
It was Jesus woundedness that brought Susan to the church, and in 2012 her church, St Martin-in-the-Fields, in collaboration with Inclusive Church, organised the first conference for Disability Inclusion at St Martin’s.
Susan’s story illustrates how greatly acceptance and inclusion in society and in the church really matter, and how lives can be changed with more welcoming attitudes towards people with a disability.
Disability: The Inclusive Church Resource, and Mental Health: The Inclusive Resource are the first two books in a six part series, that will also tackle issues of poverty and sexuality (to be published in November 2014), as well as gender and ethnicity (to be published in March 2015).
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS:
John M Hull, who is blind, is Honorary Professor of Practical Theology and Mission for the South East Institute of Theological Education, and provides a theology of disability for Disability: The Inclusive Church Resource. Jean Vanier, Canadian Catholic philosopher, and founder of L’Arche International, and John Swinton, Chair in Divinity the Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen, provide a theology of mental health for Mental Health: The Inclusive Resource. The series editor is Revd Bob Callaghan, National Co-ordinator of Inclusive Church.
For more information see: http://inclusive-church.org.uk/
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