Presence to Participation: The Spirit is Not Disabled
Webinar 3 (Feb. 17, 2022): The Puzzling Art of Inclusion
The Webinar will feature a presentation from Shellie Power, Executive Director, Hope Centre Ministries (Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada) and Interim Executive Director of Friendship Ministries Canada entitled: The Puzzling Art of Inclusion.
It will also feature a lived experience discussion from Sr. Soldier Shawn Perkin from Weetamah Corps in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Featured this week:
Shellie Power – Executive Director, Hope Centre Ministries; and Interim Executive Director, Friendship Ministries Canada
Shellie holds a degree in Special Education and worrked in that field for 13 years before transitioning into Disability Ministry. She has led Hope Centre Ministries since 2008 and has been involved in the leadership of Friendship Ministries Canada since 2015. Her personal journey as a parent has helped to fuel her passion for inclusion of people with disabilities in faith communities. Shellie’s varied experience has helped to develop her repertoire of practical strategies for inclusion.
Sr. Soldier Shawn Perkin, Weetamah Corps, Winnipeg, Manitoba
“Shawn is so proud of his new Salvation Army uniform,” reports Major Kerr. “He knows that wearing it is a responsibility because people are watching him.”
“I always want to have my uniform on,” says Perkins, smiling. “It means I am respecting God, and that I am here to help people who need help.”
Perkins loves to serve others, says Major Kerr. Every week, he helps unload food for family services and he is often the greeter at Weetamah Corps. He also proudly manned the kettle this past Christmas, and intends to do so in the years to come.
“I feel a part of The Salvation Army now. I love Jesus, and I want everyone to know.”
Please read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
When I reflect on this passage of Scripture, I feel I can relate to a belonging in the community of The Salvation Army Agincourt Community Church here in Scarborough that God has placed me in. First by having the assurance that I have Christ living in my heart. I have my place in the body of Christ as I do volunteer work in the food bank, in the Sunday School, and with ushering. I also volunteer at The Salvation Army Ontario Food Distribution Centre in North York. We all work together as a church family and warehouse staff to honour God. My church family and my coworkers at the Distribution Centre are so encouraging to me, and they all make me feel like I belong and included.
Paul the Apostle was writing a letter to the church in Corinth to teach them that they are both the body of Christ together as a group and also as individual members of the body of Christ. All members of the body must work together, so that there is no division in the body with certain roles in order for the body to function.
Another supporting scripture to first Corinthians 12:12-27 is Ephesians 4 called unity in the body of Christ. We learn here in verse 16 that each part of the body of Christ works together by speaking truth in love, and in so doing will grow in maturity and become more like Jesus. We cannot do this alone, we need other people in our congregation to help us.
To do God’s work he has given us to do, we have to be organized as one unit. We all must be active participants working together to accomplish the mission he gave us in his church. He equips us with what he wants us to do. He calls us and places us where he needs us and this is where we grow and serve others.
I am reminded of the words from Casting Crowns song called “If We Are The Body” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fouqn5Xg5-E) where it tells the story of a woman and a man coming to a church service and they feel uncomfortable because they feels out of place. As part of the body of Christ, it is our responsibility to be welcoming and friendly to new people that come to our worship services, not clinging to people that we know because it’s more comfortable. If I were to come into a new church with my disability, I would want a friendly and comforting person to approach me to make me feel included.