This September Livability is inviting churches across the UK to join in unity to champion inclusion and participation in their community, with special consideration for the needs of disabled people.
Ability Sunday will take place on the 8th September to celebrate people’s unique gifts that can enrich churches and communities, when everyone is included.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’https://livability.org.uk/contact-us/forms/register-to-get-the-ability-sunday-pack/’ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Ability Sunday packs are now available – request one here[/thrive_link]
Simon lives with four friends, also disabled, in Rainbow House, a detached home in Exeter. With support from Livability Devon, carers are on hand around the clock so the tenants can explore their talents and live independent, fulfilling lives.
A popular member of Belmont Church in Exeter, Simon demonstrates unique gifts of trust, patience and an unbridled joy for life that motivate his housemates, his care workers, his family and his friends at Belmont Church.
Simon has dystonic cerebral palsy, visual impairment, learning disabilities and limited vocabulary. Although day to day he relies on his carers to do everything for him from getting dressed to going out to socialise with friends, his life is full and wonderful and his church is much richer with him as part of the community.
You’ll often find Simon singing and playing percussion, getting the tea and coffee ready at church or hosting a house group at home. The benefits of a house group are shared by everyone as Simon grows his spirituality and others experience his gifts of hospitality, faith and love.
Simon loves to serve his church so by singing and being embedded in the community he feels a sense of belonging and value. “Simon’s love, affection and appreciation for those around him, particularly his parents, is a profound gift that not only guides his life but inspires others who know him,” says Mark, one of Simon’s care workers.
Whatever our circumstances or abilities everyone is unique to God. Belmont Church have chosen to encourage Simon and other individuals within their congregation who have specific needs, to recognise and use their unique gifts.
“Church really needs to embrace those with special needs in all aspects,” says John, who actively encourages his son to pursue his unique gifts. “If disabled people are not given the opportunity to truly be part of the community, the church will miss out on the diversity in the body of Christ and what every one of us have to contribute in our individual ways to the whole church family.”
Within society, disabled people are often overlooked or marginalised. This Ability Sunday we’re encouraging churches to consider how they can create communities where everyone is included, valued and given an opportunity to share their unique gifts.
We all have gifts to give and churches have an important role in helping others to share theirs too.