Tuesday 20 February 2018
"Complete human beings, made in the image of God" The decision of the Church of England
In February, the Church of England's 'Government' met. It's called General Synod, and meets in London/York twice a year.
One of the talks was about people with Down's Syndome. We were told,
"People with Down's Syndrome are complete human beings, made in the image of God, deserving full inclusion in both Church and society. It is imperative that every step is taken to ensure that they are welcomed, celebrated and treated with dignity and respect."
People were asked to vote on this statement: "...affirm the dignity and full humanity of people born with Down's Syndrome...a real welcome for all." They all agreed.
The debate was indeed about Down's Syndrome.
But, I sense that we cannot help but apply it also to every other disabled and neurodiverse person. Including autistic people. All two million of us in the country.
Treated with dignity
Treated with respect
What is it like to be celebrated?
It's about understanding what is important for that person.
It's about honouring.
It's about seeing that-of-God within them.
It's about moving away from notions of speed, power, IQ, qualifications, medals, awards, qualifications, perfect health.
It's about enabling and including as equals before God.
It's about love.
It's about friendship.
It's about allowing the person to be a disciple, to lead, to encourage, to teach.
It's about learning from that person, with respect.
It's about meeting them 'half way' - communicating together, not insisting on them matching your own communication.
It's about getting over egos and fears.
It's about meeting people and sharing life with them.
It's about considering what 'safe' looks like to someone who isn't you.
It's about including them in discussions about them.
It's about including them in writings about them.
By 'including', I mean leading. I mean attending. I mean being the ones with the expertise on our lives.
It's about a lack of pity, a lack of praying-for-their 'cure' -whether-they-want-that-or-not.
It's about realising that you don't have the whole picture, or all the answers.
And it's about realising that disabled and neurodiverse people have as many answers as you do. But...people need to be humble enough to learn them.
The moment people have decided we are not worth it...
Too much bother...
Too much cost...
Too much effort...
That's the moment they decided we're not welcomed. That we are not celebrated. That we are not to be treated with dignity. That we are not to be treated with respect.
And that we are not disciples alongside them, all walking in the footsteps of our dear Lord Jesus.
So, do we affirm the Synod vote?
Walk with us, friends. In love.
The picture is floor tiles. Some are patterned and coloured, and, in the light from the window, formed a beautiful cross.