We all need each other, and everyone has a part to play, was the clear message at one Northamptonshire church where they celebrated Livability’s Ability Sunday with a packed congregation.
Ability Sunday is designed to be a day of inclusion and participation in churches nationwide, with special consideration for the needs of disabled people.
People who use Livability’s services in Brackley, which cover a wide range of support from independent living to a day service, helped to plan and lead the service. They worked with local friends from the church, Livability staff and interregnum vicar Revd Will Adams.
Planning included devising and leading an interactive hymn, which highlighted how everyone’s contribution is important, and designing an invitation to the service. Leo, who is supported by Livability and who read from the Bible, said: ‘I liked doing my reading – everyone seemed to enjoy the service.’
Mandy Himpson, manager of Livability Lifestyle Choices East Midlands, was delighted at the impact Ability Sunday had on community connections, something Livability works hard to enable: ‘The response was overwhelmingly positive, with the congregation fully embracing everyone. There were many people who expressed how lovely it was and they wanted it to happen again. Church members were also keen for the people we support to be more involved generally in the church and church activities.’
People supported by Livability have responded enthusiastically to this inclusive welcome, says Mandy. ‘Two people we support, Leo and Eileen, have now asked to go to church regularly and some people at our residential service are going to the church’s film afternoon.’
People who use the Brackley service are very community-minded and regularly get involved in schemes including local litter-picking and running community meals. ‘We’ve been asked to get involved in the flower festival and a ‘danceathon’ to raise money for the church roof,’ says Mandy. ‘The people we support love to give back to the community and I know they’ll be keen to take part.’
Revd Will Adams, a regular visitor to Livability in Brackley, was a driving force in organising the special service. Says Will: ‘Members of the congregation are still enthusiastically talking about the service and the spiritual warmth and joy they gained from it.’
Livability is inviting churches to join together and mark out 8 September 2019 for Ability Sunday – a special day in their community. Free Ability Sunday resources, to plan and run this annual event, enable churches to highlight how being authentically inclusive makes their community richer and stronger.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’Register to take part in Ability Sunday’ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=”]Register for Ability Sunday 2019[/thrive_link]