The Bottom Line
By Erik W. Carter; 236 pages. Subtitle: A Guide for Service Providers, Families, & Congregations
Although the subtitle mentions "families," this book is much more strongly aimed at the movers and shakers in religious congregations, and those who provide services for adults with disabilities. And that's not bad -- having battled for services and participation in other venues, I like the idea that my faith community gets to take the responsibility for welcoming my kids. But it means you'll want to give this book a quick skim and then pass it right on to those folks who can make it so.
- Tackles a subject that's not discussed enough
- Recognizes the roadblocks families find to inclusion in their faith communities
- Gives good guidelines for faith communities to include individuals more fully
- Goes beyond worship service and religious education to full community participation
- Puts the responsibility on creating inclusion squarely on the religious institutions
- As with many books written for professionals, the writing style is not terribly engaging
- Reading this vision of inclusion may fill you with hope, or sadness that you're so far from it
- There's not much here for parents to do but pass the book on
Signs and Invitations
Belonging, Believing and Becoming
- Chapter 1: Lives of Faith: Moving Toward Full Participation
- Chapter 2: A Welcoming Congregation: Signs of Hospitality
- Chapter 3: Welcoming, Including, and Connecting: Becoming a Responsive Congregation
- Chapter 4: Designing Inclusive Religious Education Programs
- Chapter 5: Supporting Individuals With Developmental Disabilities and Their Families: The Other Six Days
- Chapter 6: The Contributions of Service Providers: Supporting Spiritual Expression
- Chapter 7: Launching Communitywide Efforts: Partnering Together for Inclusion
- Appendix A: Examples of Faith Group Statements Addressing Disability and Congregational Inclusion
- Appendix B: Resources for Service Providers, Families, and Congregations
Guide Review - Book Review: Including People With Disabilities in Faith Communities
If you have a child with developmental or behavioral issues -- anything, really, that makes sitting still and being quiet for prolonged periods a pipe dream -- chances are you've felt unwelcome in your faith community at one time or another. Maybe you've just never brought your child, for fear of offending. Or maybe, like my family, you're still sitting in the glassed-in "cry room" even though your kids are teenagers, because you're so used to staying out of the way
And you've probably had a struggle with religious education, too -- worrying whether your child would be accepted for rites of passage, or just for weekly Sunday school. I made sure my son was included when he was younger, but it's been a couple of years since I asked the religious education team to find a way to include him in the junior high program, and I've heard ... nothing. And I haven't pushed it because I'm not so sure he can fit in anyway.
One thing I liked very much about Including People With Disabilities in Faith Communities is that it doesn't let congregations off the hook in these situations, making it very clear that it's not enough to make something happen if forced, or put out an invitation and shrug if nobody takes it. Faith communities are called to specific outreach to people with disabilities and their families, recognizing that often these people are so used to rejection that they need to be welcomed aggressively, with full supports and understanding. And not just on worship days, but through respite and support and involvement.
The downside is that this book really is written for those congregations, and doesn't much deal with how parents can advocate or enrich their children's faith experience. You have to kind of hope your community steps up and reaches out.
I'll be handing this book over to our church leaders, and hoping.