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Service of Light & Learning: Is Everybody Welcome?


Sun 5 Feb 2012, 5:00pm–7:00pm

Where: Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary, 37 Vivian Street, New Plymouth, Taranaki

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: TaranakiCathedral

Taranaki Cathedral Services of Light and Learning - bimonthly, 5pm on the first Sunday of the month. A short service, followed by a time of listening, learning and discussion.

February's topic is 'Social Devaluation'.

The exclusion and relegation of an individual or groups to 'outsider' status is not a new phenomenon. Jesus often confronted the strong and the powerful and gave us examples of how we are to stand with the “poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame”. Unfortunately many of the beliefs about disability that existed 2,000 years ago have persisted in society and the church but have been relegated to the unconsciousness.

It may be very hard for some of us to face the reality that the church can be a place where people are rejected, ignored, hurried away, avoided or even experience hostile reactions, however if one is to willing to spend time with some people it will be a theme that isn’t hard to hear.

On examination, the rejection that occurs for people with disabilities in the church is not simply about convenience and misunderstanding. The causes are deeper and point to a persistence of beliefs and assumptions about the causes of disability and the proper response. Beliefs about suffering, faith, healing and the nature of God all collide in a way that is very disturbing for many people. Avoidance can often seem the best solution.

Now, fortunately, we also have many stories of welcome, acceptance, belonging and celebration. But, the attitudes and beliefs about disability are still a big problem. The roles of burden of charity, object of pity, menace and many others continue to be discriminately allocated to the 'outsiders' of our era.

Social devaluation is at work in ways that we don't like to admit.
Our 'unworthy' impulses are sublimated and excuses take their place.
Personal commitment to people is particularly difficult!

Tony McLean, our guest speaker, became involved in working with devalued and disadvantaged people ‘by accident’, while living in Australia, as a young man. He has now been engaged with disabled people and their families, the formal service systems and local communities for over eighteen years. He is interested in social justice and the community’s capacity to include all citizens in the regular rhythms of life. He is also passionate about the possibilities the local church has to welcome all citizens and be a vehicle for change.

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