How a hidden disability kept one family from church

 Screenshot from "One Body" from CLC Network

Screenshot from "One Body" from CLC Network

From the earliest days of our ministry, our team at Key has been focused on helping churches minister to kids with “hidden disabilities”…significant emotional, behavioral, developmental or neurologic conditions lacking outwardly apparent physical symptoms. Some friends in a like-minded ministry have produced a wonderful video that illustrates the challenges one family impacted by a hidden disability experienced in maintaining their involvement at church.

Tory White is a staff member at CLC Network, a ministry organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan that equips congregations and Christian schools to glorify God through purposeful, innovative inclusion of persons with varied abilities. Several years ago, Tory contracted Lyme disease, a bacterial infection frequently associated with fever, muscle pain, fatigue, cardiac symptoms, a characteristic rash and a wide variety of neurologic symptoms. Listen as Tory describes how her illness impacted her family’s experience of church…

I thought there were several important lessons for churches in the message Tory communicated…

Online church services are an important lifeline to families affected by disability.

The sensory aspects of our worship services often represent a significant barrier for persons with hidden disabilities. In Tory’s case, the volume of the music during the praise and worship component of the service was so overwhelming that she needed to leave.

Little things matter. In Tory’s case, the type of bread used during communion intensified her sense of isolation from her larger church community.

No church can do everything, but every church can do something. Tory recognized this reality in the video…

What we realized we were looking for in a church was more than any one church could provide.

Barb Newman from CLC Network spoke in the video about the principle of universal design for worship – the idea that all of God’s people are invited to access the Gospel message and be included in all aspects of worship and the entire worshiping community benefits from worship services that are designed and led with the goal of including everyone.

Check out the video and the links included in the post to learn more about CLC Network and universal design for worship.

And block out April 21st and 22nd on your calendar to come join us and our friends in Cleveland at Inclusion Fusion Live to learn more about how churches can more effectively welcome individuals and families impacted by hidden disabilities.