Disabled people are often excluded from the life of the church in many ways.
Churches have a legal responsibility to ensure that their buildings are safe and accessible – but inclusion for disabled people goes far beyond installing ramps and toilets.
Since 2012 Inclusive Church has worked in partnership with St Martin in the Fields to run an annual Disability Conference. These conferences have been distinctive in that they are principally for and by those with lived experience. The planning group is almost entirely made up of people with lived experience.
This year's conference is on neurodiversity and is entitled 'Thinking Differently about God'. More about it here.
The booklet 'calling from the Edge' celebrating the first 5 conferences is available here. We are grateful to Westhill Foundation for supporting this project. We have just published another booklet, called 'Something Worth Sharing' and it will be launched properly at the 2019 conference. Available to download here soon.
If you want to sign up to receive information about Disability Conferences each year, please click here to fill in the sign up form.
- 2018 Something Worth Sharing
Fiona MacMillan- introduction to conference
Sam Wells (intro prayer) & Nikki Goodhew - storyteller
Sam Wells on practical theology
June Boyce-Tillman on language
Ann Memmott on access
Panel - introductory speeches
- 2017 Just as I am
Ali Lyon YouTube film
Helen Tyers YouTube film
Notes of talk as PowerPoint (click save or save as to open)
Darius Traves YouTube film
notes of talk as PDF
Panel Discussion YouTube film
Sam Wells YouTube film
- 2016 Prophets and Seers
Emily Richardson: Being a digital Prophet PDF. PowerPoint (click save or save as to open)
Videos of contributors at the conference are available on the Inclusive Church YouTube Channel
Sunday morning sermon by Jonathan Evens 'Reality Reshaped by Disability' available as a podcast here
- 2015 Living on the Edge
The conference had a number of contributors. Here is some of their material:
Videos of contributors at the event are available on the Inclusive Church YouTube channel
Sam Wells: Opening address
Ann Memmott PowerPoint slides (click save or save as to open)
WAVE PowerPoint slides (Click save or save as to open)
Naomi Jacobs PowerPoint slides (click save or save as to open) and Poster
Susan Wolfe presentation
Conference Report Conference Report here.
- 2014 Transforming our Vision Conference Report
- Inclusive Church in partnership with St Martin-in-the-Fields held its 3rd Day Conference in October 2014. Speakers: Professor John Hull. Emeritus Professor or Religious Education University of Birmingham, Ben Allison, Anne Duffin and Stuart Lee.
- 2013 Places of Belonging Conference Report
Places of Belonging was a day-long conference on disability, mental health, inclusion and God hosted by Inclusive Church and St Martin in the Fields at the church in Trafalgar Square. It brought together 75 people from Greater London and beyond – to pray, to reflect, and to envision new ways of being a community in which everyone’s abilities are valued and shared. Read More »
- 2012 Opening the Roof Conference Report
In October 2012 in partnership with St Martin in the Fields, Inclusive Church held a national conference: Opening the Roof: Opening the conversation about disability. Read More »
Disability: The Inclusive Church Resource
The Inclusive Church Resource book series is published by Darton Longman and Todd.
Designed as resource books for churches, each book has an introduction, theological reflection, stories from lived experience and a practical resource section
There are 6 books in the series.
Disability by John Hull
Mental Health by Jean Vanier and John Swinton.
Sexuality by Susannah Cornwall
Poverty by Susan Durber.
Ethnicity by Michael Jagessar
Gender by Rosemary Lain Priestley.
The book on Disability has an introduction by Clare Herbert, formerly trustee of Inclusive Church, now Tutor in Contextual Theology and Mission for the South East Insititute of Theological Education.
The theological reflection is by John Hull, Honorary Professor of Practical Theology at Queens' Birmingham
The resource secion is by Wendy Bryant, currently Disability Advisor for the Diocese of Bath and Wells.
Stories from lived experience are from:
Susan Wolfe, an American social historian living in London. Susan writes about her experience of epilepsy.
Fiona MacMillan, chair of the Disability Advisory Group at St Martin-in-the-Fields.
Rachel Wilson, Priest in Charge of St Thomas Southborough. Rachel writes of her experience of living with cerebral palsy.
Ben Allison, a curate in the diocese of Derby. Ben writes about his experience of living with autism.
This is a really exciting project for Inclusive Church and we are proud to be working in partnership with DLT.
A comment in from someone who has read the first 2 books:
"Have just received the first books, and dived into one of them. They are excellent, and all churches should have them for the clergy, and PCC."Buy Now
Links and resources
No-one should have to deal with disability-related issues in the Church alone; find below a selection of the many great organisations who exist to support the disabled through their faith practices:
- The Committee for Ministry of and Among Deaf and Disabled People (CMDDP) of the Church of England seeks to support and encourage the ministries of Deaf people, people with disabilities and the ministries of all those who work with them.
- Anglican Health Network provides a forum by which Anglicans everywhere can share their experience in health and healing. It offers opportunity to collaborate to strengthen Anglican health mission, especially amongst the most vulnerable.
- Deaf Church is a useful resource for anyone interested in Church and Deaf people. It provides news, forums and information about Deaf people and Church around the UK.
- Do you use British Sign Language in a Christian setting? Are you learning BSL? Are you an interpreter? Are you a Deaf person who needs to understand Church language better? Do you work alongside Deaf people as an ordained or lay minister? Signs of God can help you!
- GoSign! - a Christian ecumenical organisation offering support for Deaf and hearing Christians working in partnership.
- Christian Signs - the organisation which is undertaking the 'Bible Translation Project' translating the Bible into British Sign Language (BSL).
- The Torch Trust - is a Christian organisation with a worldwide vision for people with sight loss.
- The Diocese of Oxford has produced a free guide, 'Welcoming those with Autism and Asperger Syndrome in our Churches and Communities'.
- Through the Roof - is a national, pan-disability, Christian ministry who seek to ensure that the good news of the Christian message is accessible to everyone.
- Causeway Prospects - offers Christian support for people with learning disabilities.
- Churches Together in England (CTE) - an ecumenical organisation which seeks to help different Christian denominations work together for common aims.
- Churches for All - a partnership of UK Christian disability organisations helping to create a better church environment for disabled people.
- Disability News - round up of news relevant to disabled people in the UK.
- Livability - the UK's largest Christian disability charity.