“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Montreal summit 2006

I was very excited to attend the recent Montreal summit, and continue to reflect on my first experience at a truly international conference. It was delightful in very many ways.

I recognize that I see the world through glasses colored by my perception of what the church might be in supporting people who are disenfranchised in various ways, particularly persons with disabilities, however, I came away from the conference amazed at the various presentations about community integration and inclusiveness which were friendly toward the role of religious groups. Several presentations specifically mentioned the benefits of religious group involvement (including my own). Others spoke about linking persons with disabilties to existing community networks as means toward community integration. Oftentimes I felt as if the next words out of a presenter's mouth would be "you should introduce your friends with disabilities to the benefits of church membership."

In my own presentation, I spoke of how supported employment has become the obvious answer to the question of how to facilitate employment for persons with cognitive and other disabilities. I then went on to say that I believe that church involvement will ultimately be just as obvious a solution to community integration of persons with cognitive and other disabilities. I honestly do believe that. And it will be a great boon for the church! The community will see the church working the works and will be drawn to it. It is tough to argue with people who are reaching out to those that society has overlooked. People who would typically never set foot in a church will come because they will see the church as a place where their child with disabiltiy is wanted, is accepted and integrated. The witness of a church which goes into the community to serve those who have been ignored in the past would be appealing and irrestible. But not just to serve them, but to enter into a relationship with them. Who desires to be with them. Who wants to be in their presence and wants them to be a part of the group: membership, not just service or charity. Funny how obedience does that. The community is ready, persons experiencing disabilities are ready ...


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