Friday, May 29, 2009

Bill Gaventa on Inclusive Ministries

I have quite a few resources in the area of inclusion at church and other faith based settings, and I am going to post them here. Here's one.

Two-and-a-half years ago, I attended a one-day conference focused on inclusion in faith based settings. Bill Gaventa's keynote was called "Signs of the Times: Parables, Symbols and Themes in Inclusive Ministries". Here are the notes that I took. They're worth sharing.

He listed Seven Images or Themes that he sees emerging now:

1) HOSPITALITY TO THE STRANGER. He says this is an ancienttradition, we are called to do this, that the stranger oftenrepresents the Spirit of God, bringing a gift.If the world is not safe for strangers, it is not safe for me.Strangers save us from boredom, which is one of the necessary evilsof life. People who are different are interesting.There's a hidden wholeness, diversity & unity, that keeps usinvolved and alive and brings us new life.

2) RE - MEMBERING the body. Helping those with disabilities become members again. Count us in! You are one of us! He talked about Biblical examples of the shepherd going afer the one lost sheep, going from "apart from" to "a part of", not "Where do they belong,"but "Who do they belong to?" Here, he talked about redemption, he used taking your cans and bottles back to the grocery store toredeem the deposit, and he said the church should be the redemption center.

3) RESTORING THE SANCTUARY, that's what we are about. Focus on spiritual accessibility. Where's the safe place? Where I'm okay,where I am-to be known and loved just as I am.

4) HOW DO WE REDEEM GIFTS? It's awesome to be surrounded by people who don't care about what you cannot do. Think in terms of the widow's mite--how do we use these gifts? Which gift do we NOT need? There aren't any gifts that we do not need!

5) REVERSING THE CALL: How are all of us - people with disabilities included -- responding to the call of discipleship. Don't make people with disabilities the RECEIVER, help them make a contribution! Let them know their gifts are being received, not turning them into the receiver of our great care-giving efforts!

6) Recovering our SENSES. He led us through a silent version of the Lord's Prayer with hand motions (not an ASL prayer). He said ALL of us need to learn to workshop with our sight, sound smells, bells, all the senses...

7) HOW DO WE REKINDLE THE SPIRIT of cargivers and professionals? We (as churches) need to celebrate what caregivers and professionals are doing as a vocation and a calling.

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