Series 1, Episode 5: Healing and Disability

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Show Notes

In this episode we have two fantastic guests; Fr. Mark Turner and Rev’d Vanessa Layfield. Using their wealth of knowledge we explore in this amazing conversation what healing and disability can mean to us in our own faith journey. We look at everything from the bible to personal experience. The following references were made in this episode:

Accessibility Audit:

Chester Diocese, Disability and Inclusion:

Disability and Jesus:

Disability Awareness Service–12-september.php

Nancy L. Eisland (1994), The Disabled God

Philip Yancey (1990), Where is God when it hurts:

Vanessa Layfield’s email address:


Unknown Speaker 0:11 Welcome to journeying faithfully, our podcast about faith, discipleship, everything in between where the series we’re discussing health and the church. I am Reverend Josh, I’m Vicar of Norbury church. And my co host With me today is

Unknown Speaker 0:29 Ashleigh I am I training Vicar. I have other various roles have been interested in health and faith for a long time. And what are we up to this podcast? Ashleigh? It’s really exciting. This podcast, we actually have two guests on this evening. We have Vanessa and Mark, I’ll let them explain a little bit more about who they are. And but yeah, it’s really exciting.

Unknown Speaker 1:01 Wonderful. Shall we dive into this episode, which has so much wisdom and wealth of knowledge from these two wonderful people, two people get to call friends and journey with, but just have you have so much experience and far more knowledge than we do? And should we dive in? Definitely people gonna learn a lot. I certainly did.

Unknown Speaker 1:39 It’s lovely to have you with us this evening on our podcast, journeying faithfully. I wonder if in a few words, you could just introduce yourself to those who may be in our audience haven’t heard of you that they could just to get to know brief briefly where you are, what your role is, and a bit bit about yourself, really. So Vanessa, do you want to go for

Unknown Speaker 2:00 sure. Thank you very much, Josh, me and Ashleigh. It’s really lovely that you’ve invited me along. And we’re looking forward to, to speaking with you, this evening having this conversation. And so you can probably see from the screen that I’m the inclusion officer for the Diocese of Chester, I didn’t start out in the in that role actually started out as the engagement and inclusion officer for families and disabilities. So it’s kind of a three day in a row. Just disability advisor for the diocese, and he is so yeah, we really love it. I actually love working with people. And I’m in support of other people. things, you know, based on ethnicity, to mention, you know, mental health and disability. And when I’m working with a living on faith conversation, as well at the moment for the diocese. And also curates occurred at St. Mary’s Church in Nantwich. And I’m still a registered social worker by profession. Wow, I’d love to have it’s not tonight’s conversation. But I’d love to have a conversation about how you manage to juggle all those roles. Sure, you have family and friends as well, that you you spend time with, I’d love to have a conversation about how you juggle all that. Because I definitely think I’m struggling. I think it’s called spinning plates. Mark, would you introduce yourself as well, please?

Unknown Speaker 3:48 My name is Mark Turner. I am. I’m a chaplainm a school chaplain. But I also serve an altar in Eastham and the people of Eastham. That’s where I’m self supporting minister, have to think well that is sometimes I’m a member of Chester diocese Disability Forum, where a group of us meet together to just talk over some of the issues presented within the diocese in terms of disability. So but I come here today just as me and offer my humble opinion of views.

Unknown Speaker 4:26 Thank you both. And, well, this series. In our podcast, we’ve been looking at health, discipleship, and looking about how health can impact our faith and what we can learn from habits of health, and how that can intersect with our faith journey. And we’re really interested tonight about having a conversation around disability and faith. And as many of you know, I’m the vicar of norbury and one of my first Sundays here and a member of the congregation came to me at the end of the service and said, I’m just not quite sure I fit here because of who I am. And when we unpack that it was a lot of that was to do with them just not feeling the same as everyone else. And some of that was to do with disability. And it made me start to think about the negative stories that we put on ourselves. Because, you know, of our disability that we have, I mean, you know, I can often put myself down because of my learning difficulties and things that I’m not quite as bright as everyone else. And so, really, we want to have that conversation about linking disability healing faith all together, and just to debunk some of those myths and have a practical conversation about what our fake journeys look like, in us. And so the first question that I’m going to pose to us all I’m actually pleased to chip in is, what is disability? How would we define disability? Shall I go first? Yeah, okay.

Unknown Speaker 6:04 There is the, the Equality Act 2010 defines a person disabled if they have a mental or physical impairment, which has both long term and substantial negative implications for completing normal day to day tasks. But I think there are other definitions as well, we have the medical model. And the medical model defines disability as a damage to a person’s body or mental functioning, requiring a diagnosis care and professional treatment. So that is like well, you know, the doctor has to kind of get involved and, and trips to the hospital, it comes under the being treated and diagnosis. The social model argues that the problem should not be located within the individual, but it’s actually the disabling environments. And that that excludes and denigrates often, people with disabilities, so those those three so so my own view is that his his society more so that disables people, because it is a it’s a form of social oppression. And that results from the environments and suited to the needs of disabled people.

Unknown Speaker 7:49 I think, then something I was a pharmacist have been interested in health and disability for a long time. And I always really struggle with the medical one, and how negative it can come across. And how someone reading that may actually feel.

Unknown Speaker 8:10 Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And we’ll go on to talk about later on the theology that underpins that social worker more than more than the medical model a bit later.

Unknown Speaker 8:24 The medical model is, in some respects needed, but not to be, not to be sort of lorded over, it’s really, that that need to be diagnosed is important. And that’s where it comes from. But my problem with that is that it’s a doctor that decides if you’re disabled or not. And it’s not, it’s not their body. As much as I adore doctors. And trust me, if any of my doctors are watching this, they know how much I love them for all that they do to me. But they do it to me. And they do it for me, but they do it to me, sometimes, especially when I’ve been particularly poorly. They’ve not done it with me. And that’s that’s particularly hard to deal with. But it makes a person fit some kind of norm now what if you don’t? What if your symptoms, what if your condition, what if your body isn’t the same as the person next to you? So there’s a whole load of things that the medical model, and thankfully it was quickly thrown out. But it is important to kind of Yeah, I think it’s important to mention it I think Vanessa’s really right to mention it is part of it. But from a disabled person’s point of view. It’s the least loved but the one that happens the most. The other thing that you mentioned that Vanessa was that the social model and that I mean Kind of that throws up so many things, doesn’t it Really? That, that it’s not? It’s society that puts us down. It’s I’m gonna mention it in a moment. It’s also like the use of language as well, I think it’s, it’s people’s attitudes that so for instance, I’m also dyslexic Josh. And, and it kind of amazes me when I go and listen to people preach, when they use these fabulously long words, I have to take a moment just to think now it’s not to say that I’m, as I was once told by a teacher, yeah, thick. It’s nothing to do with that, actually, it was just take a moment extra, a half a beat to process that just bear with me. But preachers in church use those big long words out there, or, or they’ll give us these big books for text is that you know, are kind of our big liturgy books, thick, full of words, I’ve got to find the place, I should know what I’m doing. So those kind of barriers that we put in place. Those uses of language, like, for instance, can’t stand the word disabled toilet. What about accessible toilets, these small little things? So our use of language, and that’s linked into the social model how society puts us down. I totally agree what Vanessa says that.

Unknown Speaker 11:24 Yes, this is this is the empowerment and disempowerment. It is empowerment when we feel we go to the doctors, and we’ve been we’ve been done to, like Mark said, and it the empowerment of the social model and empowers other people to live as normal life as as they should be able to.

Unknown Speaker 11:48 Yeah, I mean, when I went down to Lambeth palace a few years ago to a disability conference with about 200 delegates in the room. And Professor John Swinson was speaking and he’s renowned theologian and disability theologian and his question to us each was how can you make a diamond of disability provision in your diocese, for a piece of charcoal, and the any, any purchase into 20 groups of 10. And we will have to discuss this on our fate amongst us at the 10 on the table. And I was quite new at that points. And I said to those who I was sitting amongst, well, I’m really excited because I’m used to post and I can’t wait to, to create a diamond of disability provision for our diocese. And there was a lady next to me a wheelchair user actually, who became a cross. And she said, I’m sick to death of, of non disabled people telling us how to make a diamond of disability provision. And she had made very big assumptions, because I have a hidden disability. I have a daughter that has a disability. And I’m, you know, experienced social worker working with children with disabilities. And I said to her, that, but she had made assumptions. And we do I mean, we all do it. Don’t we all make assumptions about people from the from the sound of their voice, the car, they drive and the size of their house, you know, the colour of their skin, you know, they we just make assumptions all the time about people. And I think that’s what was on my first lessons at university. When I started my social work degree, we were given an a4 sheets of face faces with people in in different attagirl clothing, and then their their occupations on another piece of paper. We had to match the occupation. With the first and it was actually this is your first lesson social workers never make assumptions about anybody.

Unknown Speaker 14:25 That can be so hard, especially in churches when you face on a Sunday morning. Because, you know, even when when someone comes to church, we don’t know anything about them. And we can make so many assumptions just by looking at them. On our we think they can read as you say, an order of service and they understand the liturgy. Even on a normal Sunday, you can struggle with the liturgy if you don’t understand Anglicanism, it starts in one place and you need to have 14 different books or you used to have 14 different books to juggle and we make all these assumptions Without Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 15:01 yeah. And this is particularly appropriate when we think about disability and healing. We’ll come on to a bit later. But I just sort of mention it briefly here because I think it’s about us. We’re talking about assumptions. So if somebody who has a disability goes to the altar, for a laying on of hands off a prayer, the person who is who is on the other side offering the prayer will assume that they are going for healing because they have a disability.

Unknown Speaker 15:29 Yeah. Yeah. Quite. Yeah. quite dangerous, actually. Absolutely. And you’re right. Well, I think hopefully, we’ll come on to that later, when we think about healing. But it’s those hidden disabilities, that people make massive assumptions, because we try and we try and make people conform, sometimes to our way of doing things. Now, if someone’s gonna, you know, back related issues, and they just need to stand during the service, surely, they should be allowed to do that. Rather than sit, stand, sit, stand, and we do like to do that, it’s like a workout in church, sometimes, you know, you’re up and down. But it’s about taking people as they are not what we assume that they’re going to be, I mean, certainly hidden disabilities, autism, my, my son went to a church as well, we went to a church as a family. And he’s autistic, on the autistic spectrum. And he had a very particular way of approaching that situation. And because he didn’t conform to that particular church, his way of, he was asked several times to be quiet, he actually wasn’t making a noise. I know what children and he wasn’t, he was the I’m not just saying that cuz I’m his dad. What he was made to try and conform, even if I tried to, I tried to explain it to the church Warden several times, and he just would not get what was going on. So. So it’s about kind of being aware and knowing that just because someone uses a blue badge, doesn’t mean that they necessarily have two wheels attached to them. You know, so there you go.

Unknown Speaker 17:13 It’s really important that you talked about language earlier. And somebody came to me a couple of weeks, and I’ve been pondering it since then, I think it’s really clever, often inject we say, if you’re able, please stand. And that’s one example. But how about changing the word able to if you’re comfortable. So actually, if you’re comfortable, please. And if you’re comfortable, say, you know, it’s about welcome people where they’re at, isn’t it and making them understand that it’s about their comfort, rather than their ability to do something?

Unknown Speaker 17:46 Noting when people are comfortable, I think that that sort of makes them much more aware of what’s there. Therefore, you know, if you’re, if you’re more worried about. I hate going into church services, or sitting at the front, right at the front as a member of the congregation, because my worry is that I have to get up and go. So I will spend the rest of that service stressing, which I don’t need to, I don’t even pay attention to the service, because I’m more worried about making a fool of myself. What what how does that gonna work because I have to stand up and go to the toilet and come back. That’s not my thing for you still, pressure. And again, it goes back to that this is the social model, doesn’t it? Because it’s the the pressure that not only society puts on us to conform, but we put on ourselves to conform as well. Because we don’t want to be different. We don’t want to stand out we want to be kind of, you know, the same as I’m not sure that that’s, that’s if we’ve got to be really inclusive. If you want the church to be somewhere where everyone’s welcome. There isn’t the days gone by and we need to move forward.

Unknown Speaker 18:54 Yeah, and sadly, people need to feel this often feel that they need to be given permission, don’t they? You know, I mean? Yes, we can say what if you feel comfortable but those those people with hidden to spit out this disabled people may not feel comfortable just to just to stay seated, perhaps. Even though they they would be comfortable, because they want to be this you know what, everybody needs to be the same for some people don’t they all we all need to behave in the same way. And I think if they’ve given permission, we you know, we just want everybody to to just be how you are, be who you are. And be and and we are all should let’s, let’s affirm. That’s okay. Let’s all make that affirmation. That’s okay. Everybody, it’s okay. You’re okay, I’m okay. I think there’s a book about that, isn’t it? years ago.

Unknown Speaker 19:55 I think we’re a little bit ahead but it’s actually fine, but I’ve just written ahead of Some of the takeaways i’d love people to think about at the end of our podcasts evening, but I wonder if to begin with, we could go back to looking at how the Bible talks about about disability. And and if there are passages that may be coming to your mind when you think about disability in the Bible. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 20:20 Well, I think that many people perceive the Bible as negative towards disabled people. And I think that only serves to kind of reinforce the themes of exclusion from social activities. And that includes church because what they read in inviting scripture, I think that Deuteronomy has nothing to Deuteronomy 28 I think there’s consequences for being disobedient in there. The Lord’s gonna strike you with boils and tumours and scabs, and your striking with blindness and madness, and when you’re going to be exploited and oppressed, and then there’s more Leviticus, Leviticus is right, Leviticus 21 I think it is where, where no one with any form of disability can approach the altar, to offer sacrifice to glory to God, and in and that includes any disabled priest. And that’s because they they’re supposedly they have a defects and anything that goes to the otter has to be pure. And that, you know, these are Terrible. Terrible, they, you know, I’m saying Zechariah is another one. God appears to be holding leaders, particularly accountable for disabilities and other people. And just Isaiah, I’ve found this a failure to listen and see, and in those in that reading, those who are blind and deaf apparently fail to understand how to act. You know, it’s I can understand why people would be put off even bit by bit by followings. And we wanting to even read scripture because of these readings that we can we read? Yeah. Is it all negative? Mark?

Unknown Speaker 22:32 I think you know, I actually really do agree with Vanessa, you know, if you read and you take that at face value, you would see quite a lot of negativity, you would see people being punished for the, for the weaknesses of their forefathers for their own sin. If you read it like that, and you can read it like that. And I guess, To the untrained, you know, not the untrained, but the kind of someone who isn’t aware of other ways of interpreting of other ways of hermeneutics, I think. Yeah, you can. And I know when I do, I certainly read certain passages and most of the words that Vanessa’s just read, and they stick in my throat, it kind of hurts. I just think, especially that I think you mentioned the as a priest that I shouldn’t be going anywhere near the altar. Absolutely right. Which is interesting, though, because one of my massive garden moments, is actually when I am at the altar. And when I am the most holiest about I’m metallus to everybody. The first time I celebrated Holy Communion, as the celebrant, and I lifted up to the host in adoration that that moment of holiness, that central to the whole Eucharistic service. Then my stoma decided to make a massive noise and really big. Well, I’m just going to say excuse my language, a big fart, and there’s no other way of going around it. But it was. It was awful. It was really embarrassing. But at the same time, it was a moment where God spoke to me and said, Yeah, I’ve called you for who you are. So that that actually really contradicts that kind of moment in the Bible, where I’m told that I shouldn’t be even approaching the altar, let alone serving it. And I think people historically have used scripture to, to belittle on equal to misinform, how we think about disabilities, but thankfully, there is now a massive movement to change that and to reread some of these texts In light of liberation theology, but to reread these texts for other situations, now, that’s not just reading those into reading what we want into those texts, those historical texts. This is this is about, actually, let’s just take away those layers of stuff that other people have put on, shoved out the window. And let’s deal with those texts, as as they are, and see how they read to us. So I think we’ll go on to those in a little bit later on. When you look at them, again, in light of disability theology, I’m not sure that, you know, it is as discriminatory as we initially thought.

Unknown Speaker 25:42 I think also, a lot of it came down from the Greco Roman kind of influences of the purity of, of sacrificial sacrifices. And so which is why, you know, we had to have the young young lambs, we had to have a purist of animals, didn’t wait to be sacrificed on the altar. And actually, what we need to be thinking about is, we’re all made in God’s image. And this is about the larger day and we’re all made in God’s image. And what is what is that? What does that mean? So we’re thinking about what how we perceive God’s image to be and how does that reflect on us because we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image. So I think we have that as a starting point, since then, we can then start unpacking what that means in terms of our theology, and the liberation that comes from that.

Unknown Speaker 26:38 He was talking a bit about that liberation, and that that may be that releasing of some of these, these texts are very difficult to grapple with. And look at what the Bible says, kind of both about liberating us from some of those views, but also about healing. And until that redemption, because there is that an arc of redemption is in our in our new in our Bible, both in the Old and New Testament that that full arc of God. And there is in there, and there is healing there. Yeah, what does what does that look like for either of you? Or or for Ashleigh either? What does that look like? For you?

Unknown Speaker 27:12 as well? Again, because I think I miss, I might have missed the end of that question.

Unknown Speaker 27:26 What does so what does if we take the look at liberation and liberating, what does healing in the Bible look like? What does liberation from those those negative views look like for us? And what does the Bible say about healing and redemption and those kind of those good things, you know, in the Christian journey that that we can look at and see as being positive?

Unknown Speaker 27:45 I think for me, that there was something I read once that completely changed my entire when I was still very, I always call myself a baby Christian, when I was a baby Christian. And I was 18 when I was a baby. Something that actually helped me on that faith journey was seeing Jesus when he’d been raised from the dead, wasn’t physically healed, he still had his wounds. And that was a massive thing for me in my journey. Personally, I don’t know if that resonates at all with you guys. But yeah, that was it helped me come to terms with who I am. And accepting that I come with all those

Unknown Speaker 28:39 scars. And I think that is really what what liberation theology is saying, just because you’ve ever seen this book. I love Nancy Iceland’s work. I just love love it. It’s and she kind of she has this image of Jesus on the cross. He’s, he’s absolutely he is nailed there. Unknown Speaker 29:10 He can’t move.

Unknown Speaker 29:13 And then what happens? You know, he rises from the dead and he has this whole liberation. It’s it’s amazing image. And I think that Nancy Iceland talks about this a lot. She said, she see, she suggests this, that, that that whilst having a disability implies a punishment for our sins, sometimes in the Bible. It’s it also actually is is considered an impairment of God’s image. And so, if and that in turn then prevents those with disabilities, from seeking even leadership positions in our churches. Because they don’t feel they’re able to. But if you’ve got this image, then of this, this the liberation that comes from the Christ crucified, then that that then will it will lead people forward to think, yeah, okay. You know, I can we can we can do this, you know, I made an image of gods, and we can do this. And that it’s such a powerful method using it there is actually

Unknown Speaker 30:33 written out, see when I was when I was at university, and it kind of changed everything for me, especially the idea of dyslexia at that time. And then later on, I revisited the idea of a disabled God a little bit when things changed for me, personally. But she helped me through that, and that book, as a fabulous read, if anyone gets a chance. That’s a fabulous, it’s good text. But I think some of the things that you’ve all you’ve both mentioned there, I’m probably going to come back to. But I think what the Bible does, is helps us to, and certainly, the idea of Christ crucified God divine on the crops, it kind of makes us realise that what we understand our human assumptions about fixing the broken bodies and making things normal, and actually, it’s beyond all of that regard, I don’t know whether we can comprehend it. So we look at some of the texts in the Bible. I think we kind of put our human thoughts on it. And I’m not sure that’s where God is. So for instance, Moses was massive for me the story of Moses. And he kind of turned around in me and just said, No, I’m sorry, I can’t do all that. And I’ve read it as I’m dyslexic, I can’t do that. I’ve got this stuff, you know, that kind of, you know, I can’t lead your people. That’s not my calling. Now, God didn’t. God, God didn’t try and heal him. And God didn’t. Just he just said, Get on with the job, basically. And I think some of the things that I want, that I wanted to pick up from, from both things actually said, was this idea this difference between healing and cure? I think, when you were thinking about this idea of healing cure, I think there is a difference. And I think God that we can get to different things when we reread texts. Maybe I should come on to that later on. I don’t know.

Unknown Speaker 32:52 I think I think that the the matter of disability and liberation theology is fixed with the social model, doesn’t it we’ve been talking about because it works great works collaboratively with it, because with all these principles of human rights, and dignity and respect, that comes with that freedom, and that sort of empowerment adji

Unknown Speaker 33:20 I think that’s really different, isn’t it? That that is that is in itself a sense of healing, but it’s, it’s not necessarily a good thing. And when, when I think often about the Bible, and kind of this kind of story, I always come to Corinthians 12. And that, that Paul’s saying, you know, you’re God’s grace is sufficient enough for him, that he goes to God has been asked for healing. God doesn’t that we don’t know what the healing for but God doesn’t, doesn’t heal. But actually, in that he acknowledges that God’s grace is sufficient. And it’s through his weakness that he is able to minister to others. And, you know, that’s there in the Bible. Yeah, often our churches, we don’t see it, because we see these people who are very able bodied, and, you know, seem to from the front look like this perfect image. And it’s hard to look at them and say, Can I do that? Can I make the chancel steps if I’ve, if I can’t walk? those kind of questions are really powerful. And yet when we look at a Bible, we see that the who these leaders who God raised up quick and enabled and left as they you know, enable them because of who they were. Because they were the people that that that that God goes to you because their hearts revitalise their hearts.

Unknown Speaker 34:42 Yes, but there are also some some very positive images of disabled people in in Scripture as well. So in Genesis 1:27, were all made in God’s image. We’ve already talked about that. And in job God, God searches eyes for the blind and feet for the lane. Being an advocate. He was actually an advocate advocating for for those with disabilities. Samuel 16, the Lord doesn’t judge by appearance, and some to summon nine there is a place at the Kings table for mudfish I can’t even name never say this with his method possess business, and the disabled son of Jonathan. And the grandson of saw he was, and in Psalm 139, for God’s essence is within the creation of every person, for we’re all fearfully wonderful men wonderfully made. And Luke 14, those with disabilities were invited to the banquet for God’s kingdom is not complete with is not complete without them.

Unknown Speaker 35:42 That’s the thing as a community as a, as a Christian society, we’re quick to jump to that healing. And I don’t know if that’s something to do with us in the we want to be doing something. And so if we jump to healing, and we’re fixating on that means that we’re we’re doing something we’re working towards something as if we need to, we need an end goal. And God is saying that it doesn’t need.

Unknown Speaker 36:16 Sorry, the only healing that I see that in the Bible is only one type. And that is healing with our relationship with God. That’s that’s the only type of healing that God or Jesus offers you. He wants us to be healed to be part of his family again.

Unknown Speaker 36:35 Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 36:35 I think maybe what we’re trying to do, is the other thing that Jesus Himself does do, but for a different reason, I think we think is, we’re trying to cure people. We’re and that’s not our remit. That’s not where we’re where to come in here at all. I think there’s a difference between curing people and healing. God is trying to heal all of us. And that story, that healing story is right through the Bible. That this this this healing edit the cure is what we’re trying, we sometimes fixate on, when people go up for prayer. I wonder, who’s actually thinking they’re going for healing? Who thinks they’re going for cure? And for the person offering the prayer? Are they correctly praying for healing? Or are they trying to cure cure the person in front of them? And I think there’s that difference. And it’s important to make that distinction. I don’t know what you think about that.

Unknown Speaker 37:32 That’s really helpful to me, because I think it’s really easy. It makes it helps me that distinction between what the to me and

Unknown Speaker 37:42 I also think that if we look at the Christology and we interpret the healing narratives as a proposition of a social model, which I guess is what, what we’re saying, isn’t it that they, and they said to wear evidence that Christ is trying to change attitudes, which is what we started with here didn’t worry about this. This is this is a lot about people’s attitudes, and opinions, certainly, and I think inclusion is at the heart of Jesus ministry. Which doesn’t necessarily mean making disabled people non disabled. Because in the gospels, Jesus ministry is distorted, both to family and community and to and to God. And

Unknown Speaker 38:37 some disabled people, whether they want to be cured, or whether they want to be normalised whether we want to be changed in this world, or the next, it’s a completely different bag. So somebody offered me something else, I think I’d probably take it. But that wasn’t the case. At one point, I was like, Oh, this is me, this is this is who I am, this is and that slightly change, but you put me next to it, the next person and the next person, and they’re all gonna come up with different answers. In fact, I’m probably going to be receiving hate mail now for even suggesting that I would quite happily be, but they don’t know what I’m going through. And I’m happy to get rid of that moment’s notice. So it kind of Yeah, I think healing is important that we can’t assume that that’s what people want. And a cure. We can’t assume that that’s what people want. For some people that’s part of their God given talents that God given gifts, and how God calls them. And sometimes sometimes, I’m convinced that that for me, this is part of who God has called me to be. With a stoma right now that makes a very big noise. Why? Because it’s made me have conversations with people that I wouldn’t have had before. Before, and, and through my poor health, everything that’s gone on before that as well, which is slightly different. But again, God’s use those moments. So I don’t know, I think that’s really helpful. It kind of moves in to the final question, because there’s such distinction between each individual and a different approach is that I wonder if difficulty is an inevitable part of the human condition, then disability is also going to be a part of our churches, it’s going to be inevitably part of our church community, and, and what we can do to support those within our communities, on their faith journeys, actually, what can we do not just not just I mean, all, athletes training to be a vicar and the three of us are all ordained, but not just as leaders, how can we in the pews, help others in our communities on our faith journeys? What are helpful things to do?

Unknown Speaker 2:44 To enable others to be included to see that christological vision of the kingdom of God being being inclusive to all

Unknown Speaker 2:55 this is about valuing and belonging, isn’t it feeling valued? We are values and, and belonging, and

Unknown Speaker 3:04 think the church is called to be a place where people Oh, you know, this is this is what what Christ is teaching us that everybody is valued, and they belong. And I think that whilst I think it was John Swinton, he said, whilst human rights are vital, and guarantee inclusion for people with disabilities, they don’t guarantee belonging.

Unknown Speaker 3:28 And so again, this is about the attitude isn’t it? So I think we need to be encouraging people to for opportunities for for participation in the ways that work for them.

Unknown Speaker 3:41 And so, you know, when I’m doing my accessibility audits, now I give them notice and I say, right, I want you to please bring bring you bring people with you, and we’ll go around the church together. And they can share with what they’ve the things that they find difficult the things they would like to do, and how and then we can talk about how we might enable that to happen. So having conversations really important, and you know, you can talk you know, in from the pulpit about you know, please we want to be listening to you want to have conversation with you if there’s any way that we can be working together because we want to enable

Unknown Speaker 4:22 others Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 4:32 Fully work

Unknown Speaker 4:42 as much as they want to do is to have the conversation you know, get have an interpreter to happen and, and enable those conversations in the way that people can have those conversations. And that might be through eating, different language. It might be from use pictures it might be through having

Unknown Speaker 5:00 Without going around the church together and and just talking

Unknown Speaker 5:06 and listening, I think

Unknown Speaker 5:09 providing accessible materials and getting you’ve done, you’ve got the course actually, haven’t you just

Unknown Speaker 5:17 see, oh God, of course a

Unknown Speaker 5:20 neighbouring church called COVID in my

Unknown Speaker 5:25 Yeah, it

Unknown Speaker 5:27 is

Unknown Speaker 5:30 not sincere about it. And one of the other things that I think it was who said is thing.

Unknown Speaker 5:39 And again, he said,

Unknown Speaker 5:42 worship could become a little bit chaotic. And a little bit, you know, because you’re going to try to, to enable all people with with everyone and so it could be it will be it might be, seem messy, like to call it, but actually, that’s fabulous. And I remember when Archdeacon Ian came to our celebration of different abilities service in the cathedral few years ago, he said back Didn’t he Mark, Mark, in said to this is one of the most chaotic services.

Unknown Speaker 6:19 But he just loved it. Because everybody was participating. They were truly worshipping in the way that they felt able to do and it was, it was just fun.

Unknown Speaker 6:32 You, man.

Unknown Speaker 6:34 That’s amazing. I think one of the things might be helpful for people, especially within Chester diocese, where where you where you work, is to know how to contact you about kind of some of those ideas, but also about maybe, especially the audits that you that you offer churches. So maybe you could talk a little bit more about the audit, and how people contact you. That’d be really helpful. Yeah, okay, you can contact me through going on the website, but it’s, it’s

Unknown Speaker 7:09 And you can so you can email me, or ask somebody else to help you to email me your

Unknown Speaker 7:22 number. And so it is 07984318885. So they confirm that if they would like to read to do that, but there’s a fabulous book,

Unknown Speaker 7:39 widening the eye of the needle. And if you’re in if anybody wants to do anything with DC, or anything, this is this year, it has absolutely everything in here, even down to how you can, you know, your building, and things like that, that you need to do. But there’s a very simple form on the website, which has the accessibility audit on is a very quick one to do. And it’s it’s not just about ramps. And, you know, I’ve heard so many people say, Well, we don’t need around because we don’t have any wheelchair users. Good to say you might get the wheelchairs.

Unknown Speaker 8:20 But that’s, you know, that’s, that’s

Unknown Speaker 8:23 Oh, yeah. But it covers lots of things that worship space, the hearing loop, the signage, the fonts and, and

Unknown Speaker 8:35 we’ve simple things that we wouldn’t even think of, you know, speaking from the lectern, make sure that your people can see your lips.

Unknown Speaker 8:45 Because those that are liberating need to be able to say,

Unknown Speaker 8:53 yeah, shadows, lighting.

Unknown Speaker 8:57 People don’t generally think about these things. But yeah, so you can get these in this in this information on the on the websites, and, and the book, and I’m happy to come out, but please involve your congregations in in doing your audits with you.

Unknown Speaker 9:15 And, yeah, that’s really important that you can, I think, just to pick up on that last point of Vanessa’s that, get the congregation to do the audit with you.

Unknown Speaker 9:27 I think the key to all of this, no matter whether you’re a church leader, or whether you’re going into a church for the very first time, is actually to build relationships and to have conversations.

Unknown Speaker 9:41 And you will, if you go up to your Vicar

Unknown Speaker 9:46 or priest, or minister or whoever, they are trained in how to listen. So you can tell them stuff and they will listen that’s their job. It’s what they are or not paid for but that’s the

Unknown Speaker 10:00 job. So don’t feel embarrassed about talking about what is it that can make it this space more accessible for you? Yep. Because as Vanessa said, it’s not about just about ramps and loop systems. But actually they’re really important because quite rightly, if we have them in place, then people might think, Oh, great, the church is opening his arms to me, please let me go. But there’s other things as well, you know, for the neurodivergent, to think about overstimulating and all that kind of stuff. But you need to tell people because you can put two Dyslexics in a row, and we will be different. You can put, you know, we’re all going to be different. So you need to talk, that will be the top tip. There was there, I remember when

Unknown Speaker 10:50 there was a lady on our street who didn’t seem to go any interesting coming to check. And we held a street party and I got chatting to her. And I found out that she used to come to church. So I said, Oh, I’d love to come on and have a cup of tea and said, How could you bring me home communion? I said, of course, I’d love to. And it took him communion, too. And I started chatting to her. And when we got down to the reason she couldn’t come to church, it was she couldn’t find any wesc to sit comfortably. That the pews we had, she couldn’t sit on, because they were just they were too uncomfortable for her. And because of the way the way of Adi was that it just she couldn’t sit for that length of time. But from that conversation, that no one knew about that she just didn’t do the door. And we’ve not seen it. I’m not saying over 1015 years.

Unknown Speaker 11:40 Yeah, having conversations is a really good place to that is key. But then also, some people don’t want to know if there’s if there’s not a chair available to sit in. And they don’t want to be able to say actually, can I have another chair? Please make a different kind of chair? Or do they? And so about thinking about those things before? So maybe there is a chair available that has arms that they could they might be okay might struggle to be lifting themselves up or something. So having an arm chair, there are a couple of answers there might sort of avoid that.

Unknown Speaker 12:20 situation because some people are afraid to talk to me, they don’t want to so be mindful of that as well.

Unknown Speaker 12:27 It’s difficult, but it’s definitely communication. Definitely communication agrees is the key use cases. I think don’t pick up on something that Vanessa said was some people don’t even know what they need either. They might not realise what is that is the problem.

Unknown Speaker 12:45 And my need someone to help them work out what that actually is.

Unknown Speaker 12:51 We had a lady in church who had dementia, and she had no clue. I don’t think what her needs were

Unknown Speaker 12:59 at that time, and I think it was up to us to to help. Not only her but those who were struggling with parts of her symptoms from the dementia on how we could as a church support her. Yeah. And that’s where we talking to family members as well comes into that talking to the carers comes into that too, doesn’t it?

Unknown Speaker 13:22 Those people that that know, people with dementia, you know when

Unknown Speaker 13:32 to say and be their advocates.

Unknown Speaker 13:35 I think it’s important.

Unknown Speaker 13:37 Our joy, though, is not a pleasure to welcome people on Christ’s behalf. Isn’t that to go that kind of extra mile and to find out and to do that? And that’s not a joy of ministry as well.

Unknown Speaker 13:50 Fabulous? That’s kind of inviting people to heavenly Vanquis. And that really, I don’t know.

Unknown Speaker 13:57 If it means that an extra chair for someone

Unknown Speaker 14:02 moving the altar down a lot.

Unknown Speaker 14:05 Believe me, I think

Unknown Speaker 14:09 that’s so helpful. We put a plug in for our online disability service coming up. haven’t read that yet because you can go

Unknown Speaker 14:19 online disability service that Marc’s working really hard on. We’ve got lots of people coming on that then it’s all going to be pre recorded this year. And so hopefully that will hopefully it will be

Unknown Speaker 14:33 online on the 12th of September, a Disability Awareness Day was moved from July to September because of COVID.

Unknown Speaker 14:43 We would have held a service in church I think we were going which church was able to get over to Stockport somewhere I think like this time.

Unknown Speaker 14:52 And so so but it’s gonna be online and this time, and then next year. Hopefully we’ll be able to

Unknown Speaker 15:00 Have this service in a church again.

Unknown Speaker 15:04 As we celebrate difference, and you’re welcome, welcome. Lovely. Will that be on the Chester diocesan website? for people to watch? Yes, yes. Yeah. 12th of September, great. I will I’ll obligate within the parish. But also people now hopefully can watch it.

Unknown Speaker 15:25 Do you have any? You know, thank you so much for your time this evening. Do you have any last words of wisdom that you would like to impart maybe not always experienced?

Unknown Speaker 15:44 Think it is about being able to encourage people to worship in ways that work for them, and trying to have communication with them? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 15:57 You know, I think that

Unknown Speaker 16:00 we’ve got to extend out that’s that’s what we need to do as Christians and

Unknown Speaker 16:24 outdoors.

Unknown Speaker 16:27 Yeah, was Mark’s actually, he’s our Vice Chair, but he didn’t prefer the disability for when he didn’t own up to that issue, Mark.

Unknown Speaker 16:40 So So my final piece of wisdom and piece of advice, if you are watching down the end of this TV screen, just know this, God loves you with all your broken bits, you all the bits that don’t quite work with all events that have fallen off with all the bits that make you laugh and smile and cry. God loves all those bits. And you’re welcome in church when the church gets it wrong. forgivers. I will try a better, and we’ll try better next time. Yeah, that that is an amazing point. And I don’t think we can we can say it better than that. So thank you both, for these amazing completion, the chance to share share with us.

Unknown Speaker 17:32 Well, that was a wonderful conversation, wasn’t it?

Unknown Speaker 17:36 It really was it really useful as well.

Unknown Speaker 17:39 I love the fact that both monastrell Mark can talk so passionately and with so much knowledge about about those kind of this area, really, I learned so much jewels from listening to them in part of the conversation. I mean, for me, I think that’s really that is a really key point. It’s actually listening to others, enabling them to come into the conversation. I love that that Vanessa talked about using different ways to do that, whether it be speaking whether you be using interpreters or pictures, to actually bring people into the conversation with us. To not to not to argue but actually to listen to how other people have experienced in what churches like for them. And to be bold enough to ask the questions, and be willing to listen and hear either feedbacks a bit difficult. Or just that that’ll stay with me for a while and really challenged me in my ministry.

Unknown Speaker 18:33 Yeah, and being able to be ready to do something about what you hear, as well, if it’s possible. Yeah. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 18:43 I think for me,

Unknown Speaker 18:45 the most interesting bit was that distinction between healing and cure.

Unknown Speaker 18:53 And how there is a big distinction between the two. And what that means. And that what that can mean for us in our ministry. Yeah, we so we so readily jumped to the idea of curing dopey and I think the language we use that it’s just it, it’s quite a fine line. But if you can get it right, I think it’s really helpful for people. Yeah, it’s a real nuanced, isn’t it and really, really easy for one for healing to slip into that curing whereas that healing is about your relationship with God. Yeah. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 19:29 So what’s up next Rob podcast? Actually, we’re not quite finished with this series are we

Unknown Speaker 19:35 know we’ve got one more episode after this? I think, yeah, we have. We’ve got another guest and the Dr. Julian strain, who is

Unknown Speaker 19:47 the head of St. Raphael healing ministries, and based in London, she has such a fascinating story of both healing in her personal life, but also the experience she brings from her work. I think she’s gonna

Unknown Speaker 20:00 Talk about go hate healthy community or go healing communities and on the podcast readers next time. So where can people find that podcast when it’s ready?

Unknown Speaker 20:12 That podcast will be on most streaming platforms, it should be on Spotify on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts.

Unknown Speaker 20:22 And they should also be able to find it on our website. But if anyone doesn’t have access to any of those, they can email at us at And we will be able to send that out to them. Yeah, we’ll put it on YouTube as well. So we’ll hopefully film The comment on YouTube as

Unknown Speaker 20:42 you listen to. And, and they can use that email address really to contact us about anything. So they’ve got ideas, or they want to say hello, they can contact us and say hello whenever they want gone. They so Oh, definitely journey. And we also have a Facebook page as well. Do we can we post on more? Yeah, Jenny is agitating faithfully on Facebook. And

Unknown Speaker 21:09 yeah, being able to hear from other people, other people’s stories is really important to us. And we’d love to hear from you. So if you want to drop us an email or message on Facebook, yeah, we’d love to hear from you. We’d love to hear what you what what was really important to you from this episode, actually, as well. So we’d love to hear your experiences of disability in the church and kind of what’s important to you in this conversation. And these podcasts are meant to be conversations that you can get involved with. Please do talk to us about if you see us in person or talk to us online as well.

Unknown Speaker 21:45 Thank you all for watching

Unknown Speaker 21:48 and we will see you soon.

Unknown Speaker 21:52 See you soon.

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