In the diocese of Oxford we celebrate the inclusion, contribution and ministry of disabled people, recognising that the church community is only complete when all are welcome. For too long we have been thinking in terms of “how to allow disabled people in”, rather than recognising the partnership that should exist between disabled people and those who are temporarily “able-bodied”. We aim to support parishes, deaneries and the diocese in ensuring that our buildings, activities and services are welcoming and accessible for disabled people: sensory or physical impairment, learning disabilities, autism, mental health needs, and other “hidden” disabilities. This work includes disability access audits for churches; disability awareness sessions for parish or deanery groups; other forms of training, and individual advice to parishes on disability issues.

Our Disability Adviser and Lead Chaplain amongst Deaf people is Revd Katie Tupling (click on her name to find out more about her)

Revd Katie is wearing clergy robes and smiling at the camera

Photo: Steven Buckley

Ability Sunday 2019

Bishop Steven invites and encourages every church in the Oxford Diocese to take part in Ability Sunday.

In the Diocese of Oxford, we celebrate the inclusion, contribution and ministry of disabled people, recognising that the church community is only complete when all are welcomed, included and fully belong.

Ability Sunday provides an opportunity for churches to hear from disabled people, family members and care workers about how God is working in their lives. It’s an opportunity to move from just a church that welcomes disabled people, to a church that enables everyone to fully participate and share their gifts.

Ability Sunday is a themed annual service in the same way that a church might run Christingle. This year our theme is “made in God’s image”, using Psalm 139 and Genesis 1.  There is no specific date, but a Sunday early in September works well as this is in the season of creation.

Readings:

Psalm 139 – fearfully and wonderfully made

Genesis 1 – in God’s image

These could be read directly from the Bible, by one person or a variety of people taking a few verses each. 

If you have projection facilities, you could show videos of the readings, such as these produced by the charity ‘Prospects’ https://vimeo.com/132827553 (Ps 139) and https://vimeo.com/132942583 (Gen 1)

Additional resources are being uploaded to this page for you to use in your churches (see below)

History: Ability Sunday was founded by the Christian charity Prospects in 2015 – later becoming part of Livability – to encourage churches to celebrate the gifts and abilities that God has given to disabled people (particularly with learning disabilities). In the first year over 220 churches registered for Ability Sunday. Many churches reported the service had a huge impact with their congregations.

There were some extraordinary gifts discovered. In Jubilee Church, Becky Tyler a teenage girl spoke for their first Ability Sunday service. Becky is non-verbal with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and uses a computer aid synthetic voice operated by eye-gaze technology. Her talk, filmed and placed on social media, went viral. Becky was later asked to preach at arts and faith festival Greenbelt’s main Communion Service to a congregation of more than 6,500. Becky featured on the cover of the Church Times.

Ability Sunday gives churches the opportunity to celebrate all God’s people and all our gifts, as we recognise that we are all made in God’s image.

 

For more information contact katie.tupling@oxford.anglican.org

Ability Sunday 2019 – intro document

A document introducing Ability Sunday: it’s purpose, themes and history

Ability Sunday 2019 – Liturgical resources

Liturgy adapted and written specially for Ability Sunday 2019

Ability Sunday 2019 – links to charities and organisations

This document contains details of some of the many charities and organisations working in the area of disabilities

Ability Sunday 2019 – Reflection on Ps 139 Steven Croft

A reflection on Psalm 139, written by Bishop Steven Croft – in 4 sections, it could be used as the basis for a reflection/talk during the service, but could also be broken down into the smaller sections for group discussions and home groups

Welcoming and Including Autistic People in our Churches and Communities.

Guidelines produced for use in the Diocese of Oxford.

Children in church resource
Welcome, teaching and worship with children with special needs
This guide is for people with responsibility for children’s work in churches, and includes topics such as making people feel welcome, making people feel included and ideas for teaching and worship.