Ability Sunday 2018 – Livability

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Ability Sunday 2018

Livability is inviting churches UK-wide to join together and mark out the September 9th 2018 for Ability Sunday – a special day in their community.

Ability Sunday is about running a day of inclusion and participation in your community, with special consideration for the needs of disabled people.

  • Use this page to find out how the resource can help your church, register for your free pack and get inspiration for how to work for participation in your setting.
  • Make sure you Share Your Story of what your church did – using our story sharing form. We’d love to hear how you made it all add up on Ability Sunday.

 

What is Ability Sunday?
What is Ability Sunday?

What is Ability Sunday?

Livability is inviting churches UK-wide to join together and mark out the September 9th 2018 for Ability Sunday - a special day in their community.

Ability Sunday is about running a day of inclusion and participation in your community, with special consideration for the needs of disabled people.

Churches and communities are richer when everyone is taking part. Ability Sunday is your church’s opportunity to celebrate the gifts of disabled people.

Ability Sunday also gives you a moment to reflect on whether your church could be more caring and welcoming to disabled people and their families and care workers.

Livability provides an information pack for how to run Ability Sunday at your church, which features a sermon outline, drama sketch and supporting notes – based on a Biblical theme.

If the date doesn’t work for you, don’t worry. You can use the pack at any point in the year.

Register for your Ability Sunday pack now →
What's this year's theme?
What's this year's theme?

What's this year's theme?

This year, the Ability Sunday theme will be ‘More Than Welcome’ - exploring how to deepen relationships with disabled people and build a church where everyone belongs.

Based on the idea of a journey – Ability Sunday will help your church go through three important stages, from a place of welcome, to inclusion, to participation.

The theme this year mirrors the journey that is outlined in Livability’s new resource called ‘More Than Welcome’.

Ability Sunday may be one of the practical ways in which you may choose to start this journey at your church.

Register for your Ability Sunday pack now →
Register for your pack
Register for your pack

Register for your pack

Why Christian community development? We believe that God is at work in his world, usually in the most unexpected places and people. Amazingly, he invites us to join him in loving mercy and doing justice, as we humbly walk alongside him. With eyes to see and ears to hear, we can learn to spot him at work, seeing afresh that everyone is made in his image and is loved by him. Each individual and community reveals something of the nature of God and his purposes that are rooted in Shalom: the restored relationship between each other, the earth and God, through Jesus.

Our approach: seeing the gift first. We recognise that much of our culture’s engagement in community life is focused on the need, or lack, of those experiencing poverty. This also shapes the ways that churches seek to connect with their neighbourhoods. We want to join with others taking a different approach, starting with an intentional focus on the gifts and strengths in churches and communities and seeking to enable people to build on their strengths and use them for the common good.

What kind of training works? Life Together was developed in response to our research into the kinds of training that Christians involved in their communities found most helpful. In the research we discovered that the most useful training was:
  • Delivered locally and shaped by the local situation
  • Focused on helping people to reflect on their experiences of community involvement to learn from them
  • Holistic, in that it contained spirituality and Biblical reflection as well as practical skills. The ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’ and the ‘what’
  • A journey, with time to think and try things out along the way
Life Together seeks to offer these elements by providing a facilitator to work with a local group over two to three months by combining prayer, reflection on experiences and training in skills.
What are the aims?
What are the aims?

What are the aims?

There are all sorts of reasons to run Ability Sunday. We hope it will inspire and motivate your church to:
  • Create places of welcome: Ability Sunday is where disabled people are welcomed and enabled to express themselves and build confidence, offering opportunities for friendship and communal experience.
  • Celebrate gifts: Ability Sunday is a day when churches rejoice in the crucial contribution that disabled people make to the life of the church and start the journey to include disabled people in the worship, work and life of the church.
  • Connect with community: Inclusion and community is on the heart of every church. Beyond the day of Ability Sunday, participant churches can access ongoing training and resources to support disabled and vulnerable people get more connected with their local community.


Register for your Ability Sunday pack now →
What have other churches done?
What have other churches done?

What have other churches done?

The difference Ability Sunday makes – Churches tell their story

Giving everyone the opportunity to share their gifts, strengths and talents is something that Livability passionately believes in – and something that comes into sharp focus on Ability Sunday. Ability Sunday invites churches to celebrate the gifts of all – with a special focus on disabled people. It’s about enriching the life of the church and creating a stronger community that everyone can be part of. Since the day has been running, hundreds of churches have taken part. In this article some of the churches tell their story of why the day matters.

Register for your Ability Sunday pack now →

Jubilee Church – East Grinstead

The event gives churches the opportunity to consider if someone living with disability would truly feel included if they walked into church. ‘We had become aware of how many people were missing from church,’ says Sarah Wallis, additional needs coordinator at Jubilee Community Church, East Grinstead, who coordinated Jubilee’s Ability Sunday. ‘The church is in a good position to do something about including isolated people because we’re used to volunteering and have a heart for other people.’

Ability Sunday’s impact can be powerful, in Sarah’s experience: ‘One man, a new visitor who told me he is someone living with autism, said it was amazing to just hear someone speaking in church about including everyone with different abilities’.

Supported by additional Livability resources, including community engagement conference and dementia inclusive church training, the church’s outreach programmes now include Jubilee Hub – ‘a place for people who might be isolated to come and belong’ – and the Sustain café for parents and carers of children with additional needs. As well as art and games activities, the Hub offers advice on benefits and other needs, from a support worker provided through a partnership with local commissioned services for adults with intellectual disabilities. Using the Ability Sunday resources ‘helped me to raise the profile of disability and helped people in the church understand why we have started programmes like Jubilee Hub and Sustain café,’ says Sarah.

St Andrew’s in Leyland

Like Jubilee, many churches are building on the positive impact that previous Ability Sundays have made on the church community. Since taking part two years ago, St Andrew’s in Leyland now gives increasing opportunities to their group for people with intellectual disabilities – the Good News Group – to serve across church services, with welcoming duties, reading the Bible and leading services. ‘We are working towards every week becoming Ability Sunday,’ says Lynn McCann, a Good News Group leader.

Lynn and St Andrew’s members have no doubts about the joy that including everyone brings to the church family. ‘The feedback from the congregation at our first Ability Sunday was overwhelming,’ says Lynn. ‘People got the message and loved seeing what people with intellectual disabilities have to offer the church.’ At Lawn Church in Swindon, one member described the service as ‘all in all a wonderful morning – it was a privilege to have worship led by this talented group of lovely people’.

Working for more accessible church

Although it may be that Ability Sunday prompts churches to think about the structure and language of a church service through a disability lens, very often a more accessible approach has wider appeal. ‘Ability Sunday makes church think about language, being less word-based so that literacy isn’t a barrier. We get comments like “you’ve made church more accessible for all of us”’, says Gordon Gill, Livability’s Head of Church Giving. Lynn from St Andrew’s agrees: ‘Using a short-sentence style for the sermon, supported with images, worked very, very well for a family service.’

‘Ability Sunday was created to celebrate what people can do, not what they can’t do,’ says Gordon. ‘When churches give the opportunity for things to be done a bit differently, and are often profoundly affected by the contribution that disabled people make.’

This results in barriers coming down and friendships growing, Gordon observes, something which can be of particular value and significance to disabled people who may spend most of their life with those paid to care for them. It doesn’t stop there – what happens through Ability Sunday reaches the wider community outside the church, Gordon says, ‘because we are demonstrating that the Church is truly accessible and inclusive’.

Register for your Ability Sunday pack now →
Who is Ability Sunday for?
Who is Ability Sunday for?

Who is Ability Sunday for?

Ability Sunday is for a wide group of people. Here's who the day should really consider.

Church leaders

If you want to take your church on a journey to full participation, Ability Sunday is an important resource and campaign to get behind. Creating inclusive churches is never a one day exercicse, but by celebrating Ability Sunday, you can start an important and ongoing journey towards ensuring that all gifts and strengths are developed.

Disabled people

Ability Sunday is a day to celebrate the gifts of all, with a particular understanding of disability. It's an opportunity to consider the needs and experiences of disabled people - which can be very diverse. People may be living with different impairments or medical conditions, or be experiencing a range of disabling barriers to living their lives and meeting their aspirations. When thinking about disabled people, you may need to consider:
  • People who find mobility hard: this is what first comes to mind for many people when they think of disability: people using aids like wheelchairs or crutches to get around. This only represents between 6-8% of disabled people in the UK
  • People with sensory impairments: sight or hearing loss can be very isolating and extremely frustrating, especially if they occur in later life. Older people may struggle to accept that they are becoming disabled, even as they rely more on hearing aids and stronger glasses.
  • People with intellectual impairments: some might call it learning disabilities,. They may struggle with complex concepts, lists of instructions, or communication.
  • People who are non-neurotypical: this includes people who identify with Autism or Aspergers: people who experience the world in a different way
  • People with poor mental health- A non- exhaustive list could include depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder. The impact of these may episodic, or require ongoing support.
  • People with dementia: dementia is the umbrella term for the group of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, which cause memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.
  • Carers / families: Those involved in day to care of people with ongoing support needs and it is estimated that there are over 7 millions carers across the UK. Many carers may face isolation and experience difficulty in accessing appropriate support.
Within each area everyone faces different barriers to becoming fully part of your church family – but it’s important that we respond.

Register for your Ability Sunday pack now →
Why is Ability Sunday needed?
Why is Ability Sunday needed?

Why is Ability Sunday needed?

Ability Sunday is one way of many that churches can help build connections, dismantling barriers that stop people from being at the heart of their community. Ability Sunday provides a moment to reflect on whether your church could be more caring and welcoming to disabled people and their families and care workers.

Are disabled people represented within your church?

As Livability visits churches and Christian events all over the country, church leaders often tell us that disability is not an issue affecting their church: ‘We don’t have any disabled people in our church.’ For 99% of churches this is just not true.

The UK government recognises 11 million people as having long term illness, impairment or disability. That’s one person in six.

The prevalence of disability rises with age so that almost half of all people over state retirement age are disabled.

Disability is dynamic – people become disabled every day. Whether born with a disability, or acquiring it in a crisis, over time, through illness or old age, today’s ‘able-bodied’ church member is tomorrow’s disabled church member.

Seeing the invisible

What is much more likely is that we can’t yet ‘see’ disability. If disability is something that has not affected us personally, through family or friends, it can seem invisible to us. We don’t realise that those sitting in the pews around us have overcome barriers of all kinds to be there. We have to take the time to investigate. Many people experience ‘hidden’ or ‘invisible’ disability in the form of mental illness or chronic condition. Or they may be disabled by barriers that society puts in their way. These could be barriers of other people’s lack of understanding and prejudices; or barriers to their opportunities and access to a wide range of activities and experiences.

Ability Sunday – More than welcome

Every church that wants to be a place of radical welcome needs to start by learning to see the invisible or learning to take a closer look / seeing barriers. Churches must work to create spaces of hospitality and belonging, yet even a community of people who are superficially similar will reveal enormous differences. Only when we consider the needs of others - and treat them as ourselves - can we truly create a place of welcome and inclusion.

This year's theme is based on Livability's the theme of 'More than welcome'. It supports churches transform their environment in to one that works for full participation - where everyone's gifts are celebrated and welcomed.

Register for your Ability Sunday pack now →
Share your story
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