A friend just sent me a sermon from her church, Edmond’s United Methodist Church. The pastor intern preached on welcoming the disabled. The topic is one I struggle with. On the one hand, I feel called by God to advocate for the mentally ill in the church. On the other hand, this isn’t the most popular topic to talk about. Too often the disabled are tucked away, not really seen as equals. I recently joined the Mental Health Task Force for Disability Ministries for the United Methodist Church. Mental illness is just a part of the list of disabilities the church frequently dismisses. I feel God nudging me to action but bucking the system isn’t easy for me.
My church is very welcoming when it comes to LGBTQ individuals but struggles when it comes to those with disabilities. We are not ADA compliant. (We’re grandfathered in and don’t have to meet the regulations.) There is a ramp up to the sanctuary which is very long but is still too steep so all but the strongest cannot navigate it. When I pushed my mom in her wheelchair, we would have someone in front and someone in back to go down. She never would have been able to wheel herself up. There is another ramp to the downstairs with an incline which is barely safe enough to walk down let alone maneuver a wheelchair. This means even if you could get in for worship, you couldn’t take part in the fellowship after. The topic of fixing the ramp comes up time and time again but it still remains a barrier to true inclusivity.
I know “it’s not that simple”. But when Christ tells us to pick up our cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23 & Matthew 16:24), I don’t think He’s referring to something “simple”. He’s calling us to be sacrificial. He’s calling us to do things even when we don’t want to. He’s calling all of us to be an example to the world and not just those seen as “able”.