More than Welcome: Churches create a place to belong

How can churches go beyond offering ‘a warm welcome’ and become a place where disabled people can truly belong? This is the theme of Livability’s More than Welcome training.
On 10 October delegates from churches across London and the South East gathered at Livability’s national office to take part in the latest More than Welcome workshop. Some had particular experience of disability or working with disabled people. Others just wanted to know how their church could do more.
Based on Livability’s work with disabled people and churches, as well as input from theologians, thinkers and disabled Christians, the course sets out a model for how churches can welcome and include disabled people in all aspects of church life.
At the launch of the More than Welcome report in summer 2018, Justin Welby said:
‘If we truly seek to follow the example of Christ in our churches today, then we must seek to love, live and travel together with all those who are following him too. This means our churches must be places where all can belong together. They need to be places where disabled people can belong, minister and share in the mission of God in the world. Without the presence, experience and skills of disabled people, we are incomplete.’
The training day began with an exploration of disability from a Biblical context, with its challenges and inspirations. It went on to look at some of the barriers that prevent disabled people from accessing local churches. Then came practical advice on making worship, prayer and teaching more inclusive. The day ended with a challenge: how do we recognise the gifts of disabled people, and encourage them to use these abilities for the benefit of the whole church?
What people thought
Participants valued having space and time to consider the way disabled people are valued within their church, saying “It was a really good day, with lots of opportunities to reflect, discuss and grapple with the issues.” “It’s high time that churches took this seriously.”
They enjoyed the “practical solutions and thought-provoking ideas” they could take away from the day. “Changes that would support disabled people being included are very accessible and easy to do.” “I will try out some of the prayer ideas, and buy some flags for use in worship.”
Jennifer Rowlands, course co-presenter, said:
“Churches often think that accessibility requires a big building project. But together we learn that small changes, especially in our attitude, can make a huge difference.”
At Livability we love to connect people with their communities. This training is a brilliant opportunity to challenge the barriers which can isolate disabled people from joining a church, from being included and from participating fully in church life. We’re excited to get out around the country and support lots more churches in transforming the way they do things.
How you can join in:
If you’d like to join the many churches creating places to belong for disabled people, training is available. There are two more training days planned this term, with many more in the pipeline for 2019. Sign up today for:
• 30th October in Bournemouth. https://livability.org.uk/event/more-than-welcome-training-bournemouth/
• 22nd November in Long Eaton. https://livability.org.uk/event/more-than-welcome-training-nottingham/
Or to register your interest in joining this new training course elsewhere in the country, fill in this form and we’ll keep you up to date: https://livability.org.uk/training/more-than-welcome-training/