Theme: ‘Embracing People with Disabilities: Upholding Their Dignity’.
Greetings from NCCI-IDEA!
The Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI-IDEA) along with the Church of North India-Nagpur Diocese observed CCA-Asia Sunday on the theme, “Embracing People with Disabilities: Upholding Their Dignity” on 20th May 2018 at All Saints Cathedral, Nagpur. This cathedral, which is more than 100 years old, observed Asia Sunday in solidarity with Persons with Disabilities. This initiative of Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) paved the way to encourage Churches in Asia to renew their commitment towards embracing people with disabilities and to uphold their dignity in accompanying them and mainstreaming their concerns.
All Saints Cathedral and its premises were done up to create awareness and sensitize the worshippers with posters and wheelchairs, emphasizing that the church should take the initiative to be more disabled-friendly. The Cathedral for the very first time in its more than 100 years of their faith journey witnessed on the occasion of Asia Sunday a preacher with disabilities, Mrs. Cynthia Shinde, Coordinator of NCCI-IDEA, preaching to the congregation and exhorting them to be Disabled-Friendly. The worship was conducted on the Asia Sunday Theme. Rev. John George, Presbyter, welcomed NCCI –IDEA and called on Dr. Rev. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of NCCI and President of IDEA to introduce Christian Conference of Asia and the theme of Asia Sunday. He also introduced the ministerial journey of IDEA, the forum of NCCI.
The Biblical Reflection started with three dramatic voices: one of a person on wheelchair who said, “I cannot come into the Church because my wheelchair cannot climb the stairs of the church or the raised alter for communion” ; the second of a parent who said, “My child who cannot hear and speak is not able to follow the worship or the preaching because there is no sign interpreter, and so I cannot leave my child alone at home and come to church”; and, the third voice declared, “I’m a person with visual impairment, I don’t mind coming to church but there is no Braille Bible or Song Book for me to follow the worship. I don’t want to be a mere passive worshipper.”
With these powerful voices to reflect upon, Mrs. Cynthia Shinde continued with queries, asking how inclusive and just are we in welcoming the vulnerable ones, who are also created in the Image of God. Do we really treat them with dignity and respect, and not merely as objects of charity or of a project? She invited the church to use scriptural insights to practice our faith by re-reading the scriptures from the eyes and the experiences of people with disabilities. She emphasized Gods’ call to all to come out of their misunderstandings and the prejudices prevailing against the PWDs; rather we should mainstream them by facilitating opportunities for inclusion and empowerment. She concluded with the Gospel narration from John 9: 1-12 emphasizing on Jesus’ statement that PWDs are created the way they are, so that through them everyone may see the deeper meaning in God’s creativity and its glory. She called the church to come out of their stereotypes about PWDs, accompany persons with disabilities, understanding them as also bearing the image of the Creator God ,though they have their limitations, and to work alongside them. Thus she affirmed God’s call to us through Asia Sunday to practice, promote and propagate inclusion through our lives and ministries, by facilitating accessibility and asserting the rights of PWDs to human dignity and respect by being a Disabled-Friendly Church. In keeping with the theme, the Intercessory prayers were done by the Sunday School Children.
Rev. John George, presbyter of All Saints Cathedral, stated that they would try to become a more inclusive congregation, and, to begin with, they would surely construct ramps for easy accessibility into the Church in a month or two. He said that the construction of the Ramp will be a welcoming gesture not only for PWDs but also for senior citizens and people with episodic disabilities. The Asia Sunday worship served the purpose and was well received by the congregation, as they made a commitment to being Just, Inclusive and an Accessible Church and Society.
The NCCI family along with IDEA also observed the Asia Sunday during the Chapel worship on 11th May, 2018
Mrs. Glory Cynthia Shinde
NCCI – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment
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