We hear from Elizabeth Harrison, Chaplaincy Manager at Livability who shares reflections from the Chaplaincy Group meetings about what members have missed about attending church in person, and looks at some of the barriers that we face together in returning to church.
When asked what they were missing about their church, members of our Chaplaincy group said it was “seeing my friends again”, “being able to volunteer and help with the children”, singing and being “the people of God in the house of God”. One person shared it was “just seeing anybody who isn’t the same faces I live with every day”.
But disabled people in social care settings face more barriers to returning to church than others do. These included the difficulty of getting practical assistance while maintaining social distance, and using public transport feels overwhelming now they’re out of the habit of it. Until we ask each person, we don’t know.
There are simple practical ways that churches can remove barriers:
Online church has opened up access for so many disabled people who otherwise wouldn’t get to a church meeting. Whether you keep the Zoom rooms open as a separate congregation, or go “hybrid”, mixing on-site and online groups in the same gathering, digital ministry is (we hope) here to stay. Midweek, smaller gatherings on-site can be more accessible too – with fewer people it’s easier to spread out, and a small group can make the time to listen to each person.
As we reconnect with our community and realise how different our experiences of the pandemic have been, we look at the importance of churches developing good relationships with care settings or disability services nearby.
We’re curating a resource to help churches and care settings connect with each other, in preparation for this year’s Ability Sunday. If you and your church are connecting well with people who live in social care settings, please get in touch to share your story. We’ll co-produce the resource, with churchgoers whom Livability supports and their staff, over a few Zoom workshops in late September.
To share your experience of connecting care settings and church, contact Elizabeth on firstname.lastname@example.org to book into one of the co-production workshops.