L’Arche Canada recently posted Jean Vanier’s message to the North American Interfaith Network from August 10th, 2013. In this video, Jean reflects on personhood and the importance of interfaith dialogue. Similar to the emphasis of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability, he stresses that the purpose of coming together is not to dilute one’s own religious beliefs but rather to love/deepen our own religious beliefs while growing in love and respect for one another.
Originally posted at the Laidlaw College site here. Thank you to the college for permission to re-post.
You can find more information about the Theology, Disability, and the People of God conference that was held at Carey Baptist College here.
One of the best conferences I have been to in my life took place at Carey Baptist College from 1-3 July. It was the Theology, Disability and the People of God Conference, co-hosted by Laidlaw and Carey Baptist Colleges, with special guests Professor John Swinton (from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland) and Professor Amos Yong (from Regent University in the USA) as key-note speakers. About 120 people attended each day.
Most conferences are stimulating intellectually, however this gathering was also moving emotionally and deeply challenging as we asked questions about the practices of churches and other communities – including Colleges – that cause people to sense that they belong within that community. What does it mean to belong in a community? John Swinton argued that we know we belong in a community if, when we are absent, we are missed. To be missed. To have a place in the minds and hearts of others in the community. This is more than inclusion. This is belonging.
A number of us from the Laidlaw College community participated in the conference. Papers were presented by myself and other members of Laidlaw’s community. And we were privileged to mingle and speak with many working within the disability sector throughout the conference.
John Swinton has recently written a book entitled Dementia: Living in the Memories of God, in which he explores what it means to be human, particularly in light of debilitating loss of memory and identity, such as seems to occur for those who have dementia. Swinton’s book is wonderful and I highly recommend it to you.
To see what John has to say about dementia, ageing, identity and friendship click on the video below.
Laidlaw College Principal, Rod Thompson and Pentecostal Theologian, Amos Yong met for a video interview after the Theology, Disability and People of God Conference held at Carey Baptist College in July in New Zealand where Amos was one of the keynote speakers. As well as reflecting on the highlights of the conference, they discussed Pentecostal Theology, its challenges and the uniqueness of its tradition.
Much of the conversation relates to Pentecostal experience and theology, but for the part of the conversation specifically related to healing and curing watch from 9:10 to 12:33 in the video, and for a fascinating exploration of embodied ways of knowing and “knowledge of the heart” watch from 19:42 to 22:42.
If you can’t see the video below, click here to watch it.
The Summer Institute on Theology and Disability was an educational and inspiring time to connect with others interested and invested in the intersection of theology and disability. One of the highlights was meeting with the Canadian contingent that attended this conference and forming an ad hoc network of people doing great things across the province …Read More →
This is the space, the home, the dwelling that we share and fortunately it is a place of belonging vast enough for us all. When we encounter weakness or difference in others, it cuts ‘too close to home’ because we recognize our own weakness and self-stigmatization that we try to submerge. Ultimately, refusing the Other is not about the ‘strangeness’ of the Other but about the strangeness of ourselves to ourselves that rejects the Other. …Read More →
1 Corinthians 12: 12-26 Paul writes to the Corinthians that our unique gifts, especially the gifts of those that appear to be weaker, are indispensableto the healthy functioning of the Body of Christ: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need …Read More →
We allow Michael to have baths at certain times, and then we wrestle him out of the bathroom at other times – compliance is an issue which he can’t understand! Sometimes we give in because, well, it’s just easier.
When he’s in the water he’s happy and we’re happy. …Read More →
Our son caught on to touch screens immediately and can now stay engaged at school on the iPad for up to 40 minutes. The majority of his instruction comes in the form of these technologies because the information is visual, interactive, tactile and rewarding. …Read More →
Our church has done many things right in creating a safe and accommodating place for children, including a Plan to Protect® policy, offering to provide workers and they have even offered seminars on children with disabilities. Outside of the children’s programming, though, I know of nothing specifically in place for adults with disabilities except general acceptance. …Read More →
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.
On 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!