Saturday, December 13, 2014

What I Would Tell You... About Disability and the Church

I'm chairing the United Church of Canada's brand spanking new Working Group on Theologies of Disability. We had our first face to face meeting in Toronto on Wednesday, and it was such an exciting and inspiring day that it made up for the harrowing drive through a snowstorm to get home from the train station!

We discussed how our report on theologies of disability should be more than words on paper - it should illustrate the theology with the stories of people with disabilities, told through text and images of artwork, and possibly video and music. I can easily write a page, or several pages, on, for example, images of God in theologies of disability, but it would be far more powerful for people with disabilities to tell in their own words and images how they conceive of God.

Accordingly, we have sent out an invitation, which I'm reproducing here. It's also on the main United Church website.

"What I Would Tell You…"

Are you a person living with disabilities (visible or invisible), a caregiver, or an ally? What would you tell the church, over coffee, about your life with a disability?

The Theologies of Disability Working Group of the United Church invites you to tell your stories about your faith life with disability.

  • How has this experience made you vulnerable?
  • How has it shaped your understanding of God and the church?

You are welcome to respond with a spoken or written story, or by submitting an original video, photograph, piece of art, music, or other form of expression. Responses will be received until January 31, 2015.

Disability involves restricted movements, senses, or actions that limit participation in activities considered routine and "normal" by society. A disability may be visible or invisible. A disability might be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, medical, health-based, or some combination of these.

It is an honour and a privilege of the Theologies of Disability Working Group to gather these stories, and we will take seriously and care for any of your contributions. These stories will inform work leading up to the 42nd General Council in 2015. Features that might personally identify individuals will be changed. The working group will seek your permission before sharing your stories in a widely distributed format. Responses can be sent by e-mail, mail, or fax. Please contact:

Adele Halliday
The United Church of Canada
3250 Bloor St. West, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4
E-mail: Church in Mission
Fax: 416-231-3103 (attn. Adele Halliday)