Disability Sunday - an opportunity to show you care!
David Palmer, Regional Outreach Leader of the Torch Trust for the Blind, issues a challenge
OF THE 35 MIRACLES recorded in the Gospels, three are about raising the dead, nine defy the natural laws of physics and a staggering 23 concern disabled people - 17 of them with a physical condition such as blindness, deafness or mobility impairment
Jesus was obviously interested in all kinds of people - so, we might ask, why don't we see more disabled people in our churches?
Could it be that we view disabled people as 'having a problem' which needs 'fixing' rather than our society 'having a problem' in not having considered and provided for disabled people to take part in all its activities on equal terms?
Disability Sunday - this year taking place on October 4, is an annual opportunity to raise awareness of disabled people within the Christian community and to consider ways to make your church more accessible. A church that thinks that being disability-friendly is just about wheelchair ramps and induction loops has only got part of the answer.
Ask yourself - is all that your church does truly inclusive? Taking eye sight as an example, when we print the news bulletin, hand out the hymn books, put together images for the Powerpoint for worship, assemble the agenda for the AGM or pin a poster to the noticeboard, have we considered how those with visual impairment can participate?
So on Disability Sunday , what can you do to make an impact and deliver a message that the whole church can embrace?
Torch Trust have produced a free Disability Sunday pack which contains a range of material to help you hold a service including:
- a five minute DVD which graphically demonstrates the difficulties faced by people with sight loss in the church context;
- a creative service outline;
- Ideas for local publicity including a draft press release for the local media and a poster;
- Sermon ideas together with an outline children's talk.
To obtain your copy contact David Palmer or Carol Nokes by phone on 01858 438260 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?
Here are three suggestions:
Plan a monthly worship service or group which engages all the senses rather than just reading and hearing skills. You will find it an enriching experience as you include the senses of touch, taste and smell so as to be more inclusive of blind people and those with other disabilities. Create your own ideas or ask us for a copy of our free multi-sensory ideas booklet.
Organise a church visual awareness training session with our professional trainer. The session includes an introduction to the variety of sight loss conditions; a discussion about the impact of sight loss on church life; a presentation of differing views on disability including the biblical perspective; and an opportunity to practice safe guiding.
Link your church to the local Torch Fellowship Group or Prayer Group. They will welcome your practical and prayerful support
For more information on resources available from Torch and ideas on how you can get involved with outreach to blind and disabled people. log onto: www.torchtrust.org
Our closest fellowship group meets in Norwich and you can find out more about their activities by browsing: norwich-torch-fellowship.blogspot.com
David Palmer in his role of Regional Outreach Leader of the Torch Trust for the Blind is responsible for the encouraging the initiation and growth of local groups like the Norwich Torch Fellowship Group and raising awareness of the services Torch offers to visually impaired people