(Firstly, i’m sorry if any of you think “Oh, she’s off on the Disability bandwagon again”! But, being disabled, having a certain amount of intelligence and maybe too much sensitivity, these things affect me and i daresay perhaps, others in the same position).
I have been a member of my church since 2007. I was baptized in 2008 which was a really important milestone in my life and strengthened my faith and closeness to God more than any other experience in my turbulent life has done. But i won’t bang on about religion. This is just my experience of being part of a God-loving, God-fearing community.
I love my faith and my church and look forward to attending every Sunday to take part in the worship. We have a great band too! I love the services – they are lively and contemporary. The age range in our church varies from one week old to one hundred and two years. We are a large community consisting of cultures from all around the world. We support several smaller and third world faith charities and causes which is great. We are a town-centre church with a congregation of approximately three-hundred-and fifty, maybe more. There are a total of four Ministers, all with various responsibilities who are very friendly and welcoming. Then, there are the Deacons, all with various roles to play (some specialize in the education of our children; some, our Senior Citizens etc).
It has a very much ‘reaching out to the general public’ policy and this includes arranging activities for children and teenagers, an ‘art and craft’ group, open again to all. We have clubs for those with mental health problems to ensure they feel less isolated. There is a Child Contact Centre for ‘broken’ families, events for Seniors, a Budget Coaching Centre for those with financial difficulties. We even have Street Pastors who regularly go out on a Friday and Saturday night and offer a hot meal and comfort for the night to those who are homeless, are addicts and generally, the lonely who are so often excluded in society.
There is provision and space for my wheelchair for the Sunday service, at the front where i can see the words on the screen; i can hear the Minister’s sermon clearly and am close to the band so i can appreciate the music. SO I hear you saying, ‘What am i banging on about?!’, ‘What’s my gripe?’
Well, to get to the point, WHY, in a church like this, am i feeling there is discrimination going on, not with race, not with age, not with sexuality, not with mental health, not with general physical disability. SO, WHY, OH, WHY is there discrimination going on against FOLK, SUCH AS MYSELF, IN WHEELCHAIRS??
Yes, you heard me right! And yes, i am angry and just maybe having a rant! Some people in the congregation, literally talk over my head, look straight past me without so much as a ‘hello’ as if i were invisible, gather in little groups to chat, from which i am totally excluded because i am not able to stand with them? I park myself, in my wheelchair, somewhere near the coffee hatch so i am not in the way but neither am i out of sight. And does anybody ask me if i’d like a drink, or a chat?…NO. I feel like a leper (or maybe i’m over-sensitive, or maybe i am indeed invisible!). I sit or mooch around as much as i can, with a big smile on my face, making eye-contact and willing to talk about any subject. I am open minded, sociable, chatty (given the chance) and intelligent as well as polite and i like to think, considerate.
RIGHT!! I THINK I’VE MADE MY POINT AND YES, I FEEL BETTER NOW, THANK YOU!