The Church and disability


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Valuing everyone at Meet Monday

by Andrew Mackie
THE challenge for every church is that – on average – of every 1,000 people in your parish somewhere between 20 and 30 of them have learning disabilities. The challenge for Bradfield Deanery was that people with learning disabilities living in nearby Reading had ready access to a number of Christian groups, but for those living in the more rural areas access to these groups was difficult at best.
“It was nearly 15 months after we identified the need that we held our first meeting,” says Christine Mackie who leads the Meet Monday team.  “During that time we identified a team, got the agreement of All Saints, Upper Bucklebury, that we could use their building, and got initial financial backing from the Deanery Synod.  Three people came to our first meeting at the start of 2007; today we regularly have about 20 people with learning disabilities plus their support staff.”
Some of the group’s members attend Sunday morning services across the Deanery; for one woman, Tamsin and others, Meet Monday is their church. Tamsin chooses seldom to leave the house she shares with others with learning disabilities.  A notable exception is that she is always first out to the car when she knows it will take her to Meet Monday!
 The Meet Monday team members come from a number of churches across the Deanery, and the group is partnered with Prospects, the Reading based disability charity.
“We have seen members grow tremendously over the years,” says Christine, “as we have encouraged them to pray for each other, for example.  Our aim is to value everyone for what they can do rather than to know them for what they can’t.  What we want to do now is share this ministry with a church in Newbury, where there are lots of people with learning disabilities. It seems ridiculous that some of them travel into the countryside to come to Meet Monday because there is no Christian group there for them.”