For anyone who doesn’t think we still need something like Inclusion Fusion (see below), realize that public figures like Ann Coulter still find it acceptable to use language that is demeaning to say the least and even more that she doesn’t seem to get it even after being called out. I could rant but quite frankly don’t have the energy to rant today and I found another post which says it much better than I could. Check out this response from John Franklin Stevens on the Special Olympics blog.
A little over fifteen years ago I joined first grade choir at church. I joined not as a music teacher or pianist, I joined so my friend L. wouldn’t be kicked out. You may be asking “what on earth could a first grader do to get kicked out of choir at church?” If you are asking this with a bit of indignation in your mind, you would be right to do so. My friend L. did struggle at times in choir. The leaders simply said they didn’t know how to help and it wasn’t fair to have her in choir. You see, my friend has down’s syndrome. Her parents were heartbroken knowing she loved music and it was a way for her to connect. To really add insult to injury, her parents couldn’t volunteer to be with her because for years each of them had been the pianists for two other children’s choirs at church.
I learned about L. being kicked out because her mom and my mother worked at the same grade school. Understandably so, her mom was upset. They were a part of a mega church where they had attended and served faithfully for years. They were told when L. was born that people wanted to be supportive. That the church would stand beside them and help them to teach L. abou the family of God and the love of Christ. When I heard of her expulsion, I was heated to put it mildly. How can a church of thousands have no one who could figure out how to help this little girl to remain in choir? I talked with the music minister to express my concern and frustration and he said unless I had a direct solution, he needed to uphold the wishes of the first grade choir director. Not being nearly as networked as those in leadership, I joined.
This one experience changed my life. I have spent the last fifteen years researching, studying, writing and speaking about theology and disability and the practical implications for ministry. I have much I could write on this topic.
For today however, I want to invite you to consider the world of ministry with those with disabilities. While my area is primarily adolescents, adolescents do not come in a vacuum. They have parents, siblings, caretakers and extended family. To advocate and care for adolescents demands that we care for the entire spectrum of life. For many of us, we long for a church where all are included but don’t even realize we are missing a vital part of the church. Ministry with those with disabilities isn’t about charity work or serving others. It is about being family and recognizing that we all need one another.
My friend Nick Palermo (founder of Young Life’s Capernaum ministry) has long said that we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That God calls us not to what seems easy or natural, rather to relationships that demand of us an imitation of Christ. That we look for ways to serve not to be served. That we realize in the end that who we are actually serving is Christ.
So for any of you who have made it this far and are thankful that there are those who are willing to be uncomfortable, let me invite you into this sacred space as well. A free web summit will be taking place November 12-16, 2012. It is sponsored by an incredible resource known as Key Ministry. It will cost you nothing financially and all you have to gain is a greater understanding of the body of Christ and an awakening to a portion of the church who is missing. Look for me, Nick Palermo and my friend Laura Lee Wright to be offering webinars among a host of other talented, wise and knowledgable people. Even if you can drop in for only a short window of time, check it out!