New spiritual resource focuses on disability
By Julia Stuart
When you start to delve into the disability, you shouldn’t be too amazed to learn how many people and families have personal experience of it. After all, census and population studies claim one person in five New Zealanders experiences a disability of some kind.
Yet in many of our churches this 20 percent of the population is virtually invisible. They are not accommodated in the structure of our buildings and facilities or in our worship.
But all that could be about to change. The formation of the Christian Fellowship for the Disabled and more recently the Disability, Spirituality and Faith Network Aotearoa has led to an upsurge in both visibility and advocacy in church communities.
Wellsprings of Spirituality and Faith is the latest initiative to encourage churches to take people with disabilities seriously. This is the working title of a project of the Disability, Spirituality and Faith (DSF) Network. The Network wants to publish an anthology of spiritual resources.
As contract writer Rev Anna Gilkison puts it, “we are interested in the wellsprings of spirituality and faith – the stormy waters, the safe harbours, the rapids, the mirror-calm pools of spiritual experience that relate in some way to disabilities of all kinds.”
Herself the mother of a teenage daughter with epilepsy, Anna Gilkison wants to produce a book that is “reflective, uncluttered and emotionally true” and can be used by individuals, church- and faith-based groups, educators, spiritual seekers and a host of others.
Anyone who attended the triumphant Wild Lines performances by 15 women with disabilities in this year’s Wellington Fringe Festival knows that the disability community is indeed a wellspring of creative talent. Anna Gilkison hopes to reflect the spiritual dimensions of people with disabilities in their own words and illustrations and open up a little-known community to the wider church.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.