The Rev. Sharon Ballantyne attended a gathering of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network in Lima, Peru, and reflects on that experience:
“As a minister who is totally blind, I was the only Canadian representative, sent to listen, learn, and share. I sat among nearly 30 new friends from across Latin America. We learned about persons with disabilities and left feeling mobilized, energized, and committed to transformational change. Many people were eager to tell me stories about how their communities have been positively impacted by Mission & Service and showed a deep gratitude and thanksgiving for the ways Mission & Service transforms communities in Latin America.
“Gatherings like this one help those in ministry to offer a different interpretation of scripture and new understandings of what it means to live with a disability. Persons with disabilities, their families, and other allies are often ignored, isolated, lonely, and excluded. This conference went a long way toward opening doors to those living with disabilities.
“Participants at this gathering are now better equipped to remind communities of faith of Jesus’ model of love and inclusion for all people. We need liturgies that reflect full inclusion and use inclusive language and activities that ensure everyone can participate.”
We sing thanksgiving for Mission & Service partner the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, which is committed to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in church and society.