Monday, 16 May 2016
As a result of the Renewal Challenge process, CCVT has indicated its commitment to be doing better at building Communities of Hope and Compassion, and Developing Leaders to lead them. As discussed elsewhere, this includes ensuring that our locations of ministry and mission are safe places for all people. We see this as a consistent expression of being the Renewal Movement God has called us to be.
This Motion about Disability Inclusion relates specifically to our intentional welcome and acceptance of people living with disability; it invites affiliated churches and agencies, as to prayerfully discern ways that they can live this out in their context, on Sundays and also at other times of gathering as a community.
To quote from the CBM Luke 14 webpage,
“Almost 20% of Australians live with a disability. That's one in every five, and each one has a name, just like you. Husbands and wives, parents and children – people from all different backgrounds and cultures, looking for churches where both the challenges and blessings of disability are embraced, and where they can bring and be their whole selves.
Where are the people living with disability in your congregation?
Church communities are called to be places of welcome and inclusion for all. Unfortunately, people with a disability can still find themselves on the edges of church life, or excluded altogether.
Both visible and unintended barriers send a message of exclusion. As a result, many are missing out on a chance to be part of a grace-filled community. And when people aren’t able to participate, their gifts and contributions go missing too…We need each other!”
This Motion, invites affiliated churches and agencies to affirm that our gatherings, on Sundays and at other times, are not complete without people with a disability. If passed, this Motion quite simply invites us to begin, or further continue, a conversation about disability inclusion, and it points churches and agencies to a source of helpful resources to add to and further develop this conversation.
We acknowledge with deep appreciation the assistance of CBM Australia in the preparation of this motion, in particular, Rob Nicholls, a member of Red church, who is Church Engagement Leader for CBM’s Luke 14 project.
The following resolution was passed on May 14 by the CCVT Annual General Meeting.
CCVT acknoledges that,
People living with disabilities are people formed by God (Psalm 139) and confirmed by Jesus as being welcomed at the Kingdom table (Luke 14);
People living with disabilities have often been excluded from the community of God’s people throughout the history of the church, reflecting the social devaluation present in the society that surrounds us.
Given one of CCVT’s Shared Values is to “value the dignity, equality and inherent worth of all persons, and (to) work for their justice and equal opportunity”; and, based on a later decision by CCVT “to participate in bringing the Kingdom of God to earth through practices of inclusion, justice, fairness and hospitality”,
We therefore Resolve,
To seek, where appropriate, to repent of any instances of exclusion, and to become a true body of Christ where we celebrate that “those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Corinthians 12: 22).
In so doing, we recognise that,
- There are many obstacles, including attitudinal barriers, for people with disabilities, their families and carers, which prevent them hearing the gospel and sharing in Christian fellowship, which we have not always considered;
- People with disabilities and their families are an important part of our churches and communities and both need our support and the opportunities to serve and be served;
- Jesus made himself vulnerable for us (Philippians 2:7-8), and we can discover true community through the leadership of those who live with the vulnerability of disability. This contribution can bring growth to all of us and deep relationship with God and our neighbour. Jean Vanier, writing about living in community with people with an intellectual disability, says: “Loving someone means, of course, wanting to do things for them, but more essentially it means being present to them. Presence involves helping the person to see their beauty and value, to trust themselves and to grow humanly to greater maturity. Loving involves letting others see my own poverty, and giving them space to love me.”
And, we invite all churches and agencies affiliated with Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania to:
- Welcome the partnership that CCVT has with CBM Australia through its Luke14 initiative which provides resources and support in this commitment to inclusion;
- Develop and implement a plan to remove those obstacles that currently prevent people living with disability from hearing the gospel and sharing in Christian fellowship;
- Adopt proactive practices that extend welcome to people living with disability and their families into our communities and provide education to tackle the attitudes and theological issues that have brought about the exclusion experienced by many;
- Continue to advocate for Government policy that promotes the wellbeing and interests of people with disabilities and their families and carers.
For more about Luke 14 click here ■
You could also read more about disability inclusion in this article found in an edition of the Eureka Street online magazine ■
 People with disabilities includes all those living with a physical, intellectual, sensory or psychiatric disability
 CCVT Refugees and Asylum Seekers Statement, Annual Report 2014
 Jean Vanier The Heart of L’Arche: A spirituality for every day
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