“The primary problem for the church is not how to “accommodate” disabled persons. The problem is a disabling theology that functionally denies inclusion and justice for many of God’s children. Much of church theology and practice—including the Bible itself—has often been dangerous for persons with disabilities. The prejudice, hostility, and suspicion toward people with disabilities cannot be dismissed simply as relics of an unenlightened past. Christians today continue to interpret Scripture and spin theologies that reinforce negative stereotypes, support social and environmental segregation, and mask the lived realities of people with disabilities.” – Nancy Eiesland, PhD, author of The Disabled God
In her book The Disabled God, Nancy Eiesalnd works to advance a theology for people who are differently abled—in mind and in body, without loosing sight of the God who God is not hungry for power and control over creation but invites creation to create and share what Michale Welker calls “overlapping spheres of interdependence and creative responsibility.”
She writes to those who are not simply people waiting on God’s miraculous hands to make straight limbs that have grown weak; but those who struggle everyday with ability—and those who love them.
She writes to those who are not simply people waiting on God’s miraculous hand to bring sight to eyes that have never beheld a rainbow in the sky; but those who struggle everyday with sight—and those who love them.
She writes to those who are not simply people waiting on God’s miraculous hand to allow melodious sonnets to awaken ears that have never heard sound; but those who struggle everyday with hearing—and those who love them.
Eiesland proclaims the emancipatory presence of the disabled God, and encourages communities of faith to imagine wholeness and justice for every single person. She writes, “Like a faithful Jew who had conscientiously opened the door for Elijah each Seder and spun images of the majestic beauty of a Messiah who would shout out an order and the universe would tremble, I had waited for a mighty revelation of God. But my epiphany bore little resemblance to the God I was expecting or the God of my dreams. I saw God in a sip-puff wheelchair, that is, the chair used mostly by quadriplegics enabling them to maneuver by blowing and sucking on a straw-like device. Not an omnipotent, self-sufficient God, but neither a pitiable, suffering servant….I recognized the incarnate Christ in the image of those judged not feasible, unemployable, with questionable quality of life. Here was God for me.”
“As a community of Christ we believe that all persons are children of God, created in God’s image, and affirm the inherent value, worth and dignity of all races, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations, and gender identities, without regard to one’s marital status, family structure, faith and educational background, economic and social standing, mental and physical ability, military or civilian status. No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.
In the prophetic tradition of the progressive United Church of Christ, we extravagantly welcome all people into the full life, membership, leadership, mission, fellowship, worship, and sacraments of this church, and invite all to bear the responsibilities, blessings and joys of membership, ministry and life in this church. Recognizing that we are an increasingly diverse culture and that there are differences among us in private belief and interpretation of sacred scriptures, we covenant, as the community of Christ, to work and serve the Lord together in this church.”
–Christian Fellowship Congregational Church, ONA/A2A Statement