Church is learning

We had a very encouraging meeting on 14th May. As we shared, we realised that three churches have made a very good start on their journey towards ‘full involvement of disabled people and their families’.  Each has started a group within  the church who are actively looking at what is happening and what could be different.

  1. One church started by wanting to ‘categorise’ all the different disabilities in their church, but our network member wanted them to avoid just ‘analysing’ and asked them to ‘get started’ by talking to a family with two children on the autistic spectrum. The group took this a step further and each person identified someone in the church they could approach. This church is starting ‘by listening’ to the people who can best tell them what is needed.
  2. Another church started by looking at who ‘isn’t coming’. They realised there are many people with disabilities connected to their community who weren’t coming for practical reasons. For instance, a significant number of people with hearing and sensory issues that didn’t like sitting in an echoey hall for prayer meetings. Our network member was worried about ideas of running ‘an inclusive service’ rather than making services inclusive generally. We discussed how many principles that benefit one person actually end up benefitting many people.
  3. Lastly, a church expressing its heart to actively reach out to people in their local community who are isolated by disability/illness admitted that they are having difficulty making contact with people DUE TO THEIR ISOLATION! We discussed seeing ‘church’ not as a building to get people into, but as ‘where two or more are gathered’ (Mt 18:20). The church are already ministering through visiting individuals and running fellowship in a nursing home. We talked about the value of fellowship and being in a witness in residential settings where people have such difficulty getting to a church, but welcome contact in other forms.

We prayed blessings over each church and thank God for stirring people to act in love. We know these churches will be enriched and blessed on this journey by the people they come to know and involve.

The Cyber Cafe – Trowbridge

This is not a Christian charity as far as I know but its doing a good job and sadly their main supporter – Keith – passed away recently. So as an Assistive Technologist I am going to see what I can do to support it.

This is a local initiative in Trowbridge which I met with Jane, organizer and trainer , today. They provide a safe internet environment for people with disabilities to access the internet and develop their ICT skills. Take a look at their website :- http://www.disabledonline.org.uk . From my point of view I am going to try and help them resolve some technical issues they are having. It’s a charity and non-for-profit organisation.

26th September 2015 – Saltford Community Church, Saltford

Our first joint meeting between both Bristol and Bath groups. This is under negotiation as we proceed and the one action arising was to create a means for sharing information. With that in mind I have put a facebook feed up. If you have other websites we could have linked to this site that would make the work of through the roof more accessible to a wider audience. We haven’t got the means to make this a fully accessible site but we could explore that further in the future. At the moment we need to decide what information to share and how?

Our meeting started with Tamara focusing us on Ephesians to love and serve God out a servant heart for his sake alone. Janet Eardley from Torch shared what Torch  are doing ; in particular the befriending program she would like us to publicize and she finished by showing us the playback devices to help people with visual needs to access scripture. We then broke into groups to discuss the things we felt were at the heart of what we do. This time was a great chance to network and learn from each other.

There will be another joint event in the future – watch this space. Please get people to sign up to this blog so that you can have recent posts sent directly to your email inbox. That way you will always be informed!