Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Can There Be A Sacramental 

Online Church?

Following on from my last blog I want to share with you where my thoughts are right now.

Please understand that these thoughts are entirely personal and do not represent my final word on anything, I merely wish to set them out as a way of starting a discussion. 

There have been many of us campaigning for greater access and inclusion for disabled people in the church and let me be very clear we are talking far more than just ramps and lifts but changes in culture, attitude and even liturgy. This campaigning has been going on since the dawn of DDA back in the mid 90s. 

Many colleagues, friends and fellow pilgrims constantly implore me to exorcise patience and tell me that the church takes a long time to change but quite frankly my question must be "how bloody long do you need"!

I will be 59yrs old this March and have been campaigning on such things most of my adult life. I have to tell you that so far I have seen far too little change. 

This lack of progress has seen many disabled pilgrims simply leave the church either because the church is incapable of meeting their needs or as is often the case, they have been so hurt and indeed damaged by their experience they just feel the only safe space for them is outside the church.

As a consequence many disabled people have become dependant on online experiences of church as often their only way of being connected with any form of church at all. 

I am alarmed by the way many in the wider church are speaking against online church as a in some way a lesser experience. 

Let me remind these critics that the church so far has abjectly failed disabled people. Then when disabled people seek to take matters in to their own hands, criticise them and tell them this is not "real" church. I feel I must say to you "you can not have it both ways". 

We have failed to reform the church in sufficient ways and left disabled people hurting and often disenfranchised. To then be critical of the way they try to find an expression of church that meets their needs is at best disingenuous. 

Is it not the case that "where two or three are gathered together" and if that way can only be online then so be it and that where disabled gather in that lies the sacramental?

Please join in the conversation with us on Twitter at @DisabilityJ

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