With the opening of the Paralympic Games only six months away, churches in the Diocese of Guildford are being challenged to be as inclusive as the 2012 Games themselves.
The call has come from More Than Gold, the agency helping churches make the most of the Games. Itâ€™s CEO, David Willson said, â€˜The Olympic movement has fully embraced those with disabilities. Itâ€™s time for churches to get serious about doing the sameâ€™.
For More Than Gold, this means churches making their events around the Games welcoming for those with disabilities and learning difficulties. To help, a check list on how to do so has been produced. It highlights the need for â€˜step-freeâ€™ access, disabled parking spaces, large print publications and other practical responses.
Also available is a list of help and resources from agencies specialising in working with people who are disabled.
Ian Richards, Chair of the More Than Gold Paralympic Committee said, â€˜With around 10 million people in the UK classified as having a disability, it is time for churches to make them more welcome and more able to contribute their God-given giftsâ€™.
The call is also for churches to use the Paralympics to highlight the issues of disability and inclusiveness to their members. In support, there is a DVD resource designed for a one-hour church service produced by BMS World Mission. It celebrates the faith and excellence of Paralympians, while addressing issues of global injustice and promoting inclusion of disabled people everywhere.
â€˜The signs are already encouragingâ€™, adds David Willson. 'For example, Aylesbury Youth for Christ are planning a Paralympics opening night festival with the disabled kids as the stars. And Guildford Cathedral are opening their doors during the Paralympics for artists with a disability to display their work'.
More Than Goldâ€™s checklist on inclusiveness and a list of agencies who can help can be downloaded at www.morethangold.org.uk/free-resources