Katie Tupling, photo: Steven Buckley

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, and the partnership that should exist between disabled people and those who are 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. This work includes mentoring, 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 is Revd Katie Tupling (click on her name to find out more about her)

The role is part time, as Katie is also Lead Chaplain amongst Deaf people – you can find out more by going to the website of the Oxford Council for the Deaf and Hard of hearing (the link is here). For an introduction to D/deaf culture and some of the challenges faced by this community, there is an excellent article here written by Lucy Cooper 

Ability Sunday 2019

Yellow background with the globe centrally, and the words

Throughout September and October 2019, a number of churches took up Bishop Steven’s invitation to take part in Ability Sunday.

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 was“made in God’s image”, using Psalm 139 and Genesis 1.  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 uploaded to this page for you to use in your churches (see below) – every Sunday could be Ability Sunday!

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.

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

Ability Sunday video reflection, by Revd Katie Tupling

You are very welcome to use this at any time of the year!

Katie reflects on Psalm 139, Ability Sunday, and her own faith and disability

General resources around disability and inclusion

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.

10-ways-to-belong – Methodist Church and Urban Saints

The Methodist Church, Count Everyone In, Urban Saints, and the Additional Needs Alliance, have collaborate to create a guide to help churches support children, young people and young adults with additional needs, and better enable everyone to belong in every church.

Around the Diocese…!

As the Disability Adviser I am trying to get around the Diocese and visit ‘good news’ churches, congregations, events and gatherings… 

Do you have something I can visit, and then blog about here?

Perhaps you have done some reordering of your building to improve the physical access, or adapted your liturgy to better enable understanding during times of worship and teaching.  Maybe your Welcomers are people of real warmth and inclusion. I would love to come and visit you, see how you are helping everyone to belong and enable gifts and ministries to flourish.

Charities whose work we appreciate

Parents and Children Together

Oxford Diocese has a strong historical relationship with PACT – an adoption charity and family support provider which helps hundreds of families every year through outstanding adoption services and award-winning therapeutic support and inspirational community projects across London and the south of England.

PACT is one of the UK’s leading independent adoption charities, placing children with secure and loving families and supporting them with specialist therapeutic support. Their award-winning FACTS service includes counselling, Theraplay, creative art therapy and life story work which help children to overcome difficulties in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood which have resulted from early trauma and neglect.


Calibre Audio Library is a national charity providing a subscription-free service of unabridged audio books for adults and children with sight problems, dyslexia or other disabilities, who cannot read print.

A national charity, Calibre lend audiobooks to over 14,000 members across the UK and EU and now in countries that have ratified the Marrakesh Treaty. Members range in age from five to 105 and Calibre offer a wide choice of unabridged books for all ages and all tastes.

One of their guiding principles has always been to supply books in a format that can be played on ordinary household equipment. This means that members can select a player that suits their needs. For example they can listen to audio books on portable equipment (like a purpose built USB player), so that they can take books into the garden, on holiday or on long journeys.


Livability is a disability charity that connects people with their communities: they tackle social isolation and the barriers that can cause this in the lives of disabled and vulnerable people.

Through a wide range of disability, education, training and community services, Livability promotes inclusion and wellbeing for all. Together, they work to see people take part, contribute and be valued. Livability puts the elements in place that all add up to connected lives and communities.

In 2019 Bishop Steven and Revd Katie Tupling wrote the resources and reflections for Ability Sunday – celebrating the gifts and skills of all people.

Wednesday Church

Wednesday Church meets on the first Wednesday of each month at St Peter’s, Didcot, an easily accessible modern building. In 2010, several people from different parishes, who were concerned that there are many people with learning difficulties living among us for whom the churches seemed to be making little provision, met at a resource day called ‘Is there a place for me?’

That group were particularly inspired by a contribution from John Rumble, head of a special school in Buckinghamshire, and by the work of Prospects. The group determined to set up an opportunity for disabled people and their carers to meet and worship together. Since March 2011, between 30 and 40 people meet at 10am for a friendly craft session with drinks and biscuits.

Jenny Loader is one of the organisers and leaders.  She writes:

“After a time of craft and refreshments, we go into the Church at 11 and members contribute to the worship in many ways: lighting candles, ringing the bell, singing, sharing matters for thanksgiving and prayer and helping with Makaton signing. Sometimes we include percussion, wave streamers or dance. Everyone is encouraged to join in! PowerPoint presentations showing words and pictures support the worship, which mixes the familiar and regular with the new.

Afterwards we return to the hall to eat our picnic lunches and enjoy the company. We have been very glad to see friendships developing between members from different communities and the concern that they now show for each other. Local churches have supported us generously. Members of Wednesday Church come from Style Acre, Home Farm Trust and other communities in the area. We welcome everyone and have many friends.”

The image gallery below shows pictures taken by Brian Kilham at an end of term party and worship, attended by Revd Katie Tupling

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