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Mission and people with disabilities

Mission and people with disabilities

School of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania on the campus of the Usa River Rehabilitation & Vocational Training Center near Kilimanjaro features integrated classroom of students with varied abilities. Photo: Gregg Brekke/WCC

26 June 2019

How much is the mission of the church related to people with disabilities? These days we talk a lot about inclusive societies and churches. But, have we arrived there? Are our societies and churches taking seriously the problems and challenges that people with disabilities face on a daily basis? People with disabilities find themselves quite often at the margins of the societies and even of the churches.

In the World Council of Churches (WCC) publication on mission,“Together towards Life,” the concept of “mission from the margins” becomes a prominent aspect of a new paradigm of mission. It is not about addressing those at the margins and directing the mission of the church towards them; rather, it is about listening and learning from those who are at the margins.

Those who are at the margins of our societies and churches have a voice, which needs to be heard and can make a change; their perspectives and experiences are crucial for an inclusive way of life described in the Arusha Call, which tells of “confronting and transforming the forces that marginalize and exclude people is an important aspect of Christian discipleship.”

The most recent issue of International Review of Mission gives many authors from all over the world, many associated with the WCC Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, a platform on which to raise their voices from the margins to contribute to more inclusive societies and churches. They challenge the readers theologically and missiologically to rethink of the concept of 'disability' as well as of their own attitudes towards people with disabilities.

International Review of Mission online

Making Space, Offering Voice: Leadership of People with Disabilities in God’s Mission, IRM article by Miriam Spies

WCC’s Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN)