Churches Challenged to Use the Engage Disability Audit Tool
Engage Disability was privileged to partner with Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment NCCI -IDEA, to bring together pastors, lay leaders, and people with disabilities through the Nagpur Ecumenical Forum for a one-day workshop on 14 June 2023, to understand how Churches can assess their level of disability inclusion and improve themselves to become a welcoming church for persons with disabilities.
Using activities that were later processed and synthesized, the workshop gave participants a chance to experientially understand what life feels like for a person living with locomotor disability or visual impairment.
We introduced the Engage Disability Audit tool for churches to the participants. Why do we need to audit ourselves as churches in terms of our level of disability inclusion? What is the purpose of such an audit? Such questions were tackled for the pastors and lay leaders to understand that this was not a “competitive test,” but a group exercise undertaken by a church for self-assessment and for learning, so that we can become better at creating an ethos where “fullness of life” is experienced by all, including people with disabilities.
Participants understood that the audit needed to be taken as a group exercise by each congregation, because it was based on the principle of “Nothing about us without us” – As we learn to accompany persons with disabilities, we learn more about their lives and challenges in participating fully in our life and witness as Churches.
We hope that knowing the areas where congregations may be measuring up and areas that may need improvement, will help the congregation to grow intentionally towards becoming an accessible, disabled ready, and disabled welcoming church.
Other available resources of Engage Disability like the Disability Inclusion Toolkit for Churches, Family Retreats, Bible studies from a disability perspective, liturgical resources and resources created by other partners in the ED network, and available through the ED website were also introduced.
NCCI IDEA also shared the NCCI Disability Policy for Churches that can help churches in India make inclusion practices sustainable when it is adopted as a policy, and also an introduction to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, and how compliance to it could help move us towards becoming more accessible, sensitive, and empowering as a church.
Equipped with all these resources we are sure the pastors and lay leaders assembled will begin to lead and grow with their congregations in disability inclusion and thereby ensure the full and just participation of persons with disabilities in the life and witness of the Churches.
We are thankful to NCCI – IDEA for hosting this workshop at the NCCI campus in Nagpur, members of the Nagpur Ecumenical Forum for bringing together participants with a heart for disability, and the NCCI staff Rev Ribin John, Executive Secretary for Ecumenical Fora, Mr Suhaas, Research Assistant, and Surushti, NCCI intern, and the General Secretary Rev Asir Ebenezer for anchoring the arrangements and hosting this impactful event.