Sunday, 16 August 2015
How do we understand the term learning disability? What image does it conjure up for us? And perhaps most importantly how do we respond to someone who has a learning disability?
Corrine McLelland who works at Disability Rights UK spent a day with Mancap, she has written an excellent blog which says a great deal more than I could ever say.
How does a church react when someone with a learning disability come along? Well the first and most important things to say is, you may never know someone has a learning disability and chances are you already have people in your congregations with some form of learning disability, so in short don’t panic!
Perhaps this may help. A case story:
There is a 51 year old priest with mobility impairments who mobilises with walking sticks, but due to chronic pain also has to use a wheel chair on occasion. Due to a stroke in later life the priest also developed Aphasia so has occasional problems with reading. The Bishop came for a big service and lots of other ministers came along, so our priest ended up at the front alone because there were only fixed pews in the church. The Bishop insisted that every time it in the booklet stand he should read out “stand”, but for some reason he looked down from the elevated chancel at the priest. The priest for his part felt a little left out and alone, and could not follow all of the service.
A few weeks later the priest attended the sister church to the one above, the parishioners had seen his distress and had built themselves ramps. They also ensured someone was close by through the service to give him assistance, and most of all they gave him a good honest Christian welcome.
Now the Priest did not have a learning disability; but the story does emphasis the richness of a welcome, and consideration shown to anyone attending a service. Never, never be afraid to ask is there is anything you can do to help. Even if there isn’t something on the day that would help, e.g. large print readings of the bible, or hymn’s, just say sorry but please come back next week and we will have them for you.
Also, and this is so very important. The Church is not the building it is the people. So if we know of people in our area who would benefit from our reaching out, then reach out, we the Church go to them.