It’s the stares, not the stairs

You would think that the one place in the world where people with disabilitiesAccessible Path To Church would be welcomed and accepted would be the church. Sad to say, with a few exceptions, it’s not the case.

That being said, I was happy to read an article in the Orlando Sentinel about several Florida churches that are making a concerted effort to be more inclusive.

The focus in the article is not on architectural barriers in church buildings, but rather on attitudinal walls that separate those who have disabilities and those who don’t. As one person put it, it’s not the stairs, it’s the stares.

I can’t imagine what life would be like if I was the object of stares or if people gave me a wide path because I had a disability that made me look or act differently. I suppose it’s understandable to some extent, but it shouldn’t be in a church setting. Speaking as a church member and a Christian, it’s incumbent upon me to be more aware and more open to all people.

The article mentions “disability theology,” which is a new term for me. It essentially means that people who have disabilities are created by God and they have special gifts to offer others.

Disability theologians contend that people with disabilities don’t need to be fixed. They just need to be accepted and welcomed.

I certainly found that to be true with my Uncle Melrose, who had a severe intellectual disability but an incredible capacity for love. I discovered that by welcoming him into my life, it was a win-win for both of us.

I’m also happy to report that my uncle loved to go to church and he did so every chance he got. I hope he got the love and acceptance he deserved on those long ago Sunday mornings.