This is the fourth in a series of posts written by a mother of a son with autism, reflecting on her experience with her church community. Some of her observations serve as challenges to the way we do church, while others should be encouraging to the people who have made a difference in the lives of her and her family.  The names in this story are fictional, but their experiences are not.


joni1On the Joni and Friends Web Site I listened to an MP3 by Will and Arlyn Kantz and they really understand our needs. Our family can relate to almost every behavioral situation they spoke about, the challenges families face and even the fears of future challenges like puberty, programming, the workers, the sensory issues, congregational reactions, etc.

I would love to have a local church like the ones the Kantz’s help with inclusion programming.
Even one church like this in the area would be great.

I realize this particular couple (Will and Arlyn) not only have an autistic son but have great qualifications.  They have done the work required and have put immense energy into the transformation. Their staged strategies for inclusion are thought through in a professional way.

Would a church body ever rise to this challenge on their own?

Most parents of children with disabilities do not have the qualifications, experience, energy, time or resources to instigate or even help implement something like this. Even as I write this, feelings of guilt resurface about not trying harder and doing more to figure something out for Michael. To be honest, though, we have so many things in his daily life that we have not figured out. It’s overwhelming to think of the energy and time required to figure out programming for Church as well.

There have always been people who have invested the energy and time to work out the programming for Nursery School, ABA and school.  If a church really wants to work for inclusion or foster belonging for people with disabilities and their families a great first step would be listening to the Kantz’s MP3.  Really, they have it right.  Everyone in the congregation needs to be educated and not just immediate workers or teachers.

To the rest of the congregation this may look like an immense undertaking and adjustment, but think of how many more members would be able to join in fellowship and be ministered to!

Peter Singer

Utilitarianism forms the backbone of Singer’s theories. For him, ethics and the question of personhood should be rooted in ‘quality of life’ rather than in hypothetical ideas about ‘sanctity’. Much of his thinking revolves around the question “can they suffer?” As such, animals and humans are placed on equal terms. For him the question is not between human and animal, but between ‘person’ and ‘non-person’. Read More →

Who Am I?

One cannot think about theology of disability without soon wrestling with the notion that each human being is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27-28). Found in all “religions of the book” (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) what exactly constitutes this image is the subject of much assumption and debate. In contrast with certain philosophies Read More →

human

One important idea that has been resonating in philosophical circles over the past two decades is a growing conversation regarding the difference between what is ‘human’ and who is a ‘person’. The ideas of what constitutes a ‘person’ are certainly not new. We find the roots of these controversial discussions in the writings of the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Many of the new ‘ideas’ are simply a repackaging of very old ones. Read More →