I was researching the ascension texts in Acts and Ephesians, and came across a thought-provoking sermon on the ascension which discusses how Christ ascends with his scars, and its connection to a needed change in perspective around the concerns of people with disabilities in the church: http://day1.org/5794-aaron_coylecarr_he_ascended_with_scars_fte_series_5
I find that sadly persons with disabilities are one of the most oppressed and mistreated groups in the church. In far too many churches, across denominational and theological grounds, they are excluded from participation both for architectural and attitudinal reasons. I have found even in otherwise liberal groups that advertise themselves as “accepting of all”, often this group is still excluded. The irony is we do this even in large gatherings focused on issues of justice like the otherwise wonderful “Wild Goose” gathering in NC which, despite its many talks about justice, is organized in a way with very limited options for inclusion of people with disabilities in the event. And I know many talented ministers and leaders in groups where other minorities are welcomed with open arms, who face exclusion from leadership opportunities due to their disability.
This discrimination flows out into ongoing experiences of marginalization and exclusion from opportunities in work and housing in the wider society.
I’m glad to be a part of a congregation right now, the United Church of Chapel Hill, which is being very intentional both about working toward more full inclusion of people with disabilities in its ministries and activities, as well as combatting able-ism in its life and in its surrounding community. I pray more churches an Christian ministries in the south-land will work toward living out this call of the ascension.
And I ain’t just whistling Dixie here
your progressive redneck preacher,