Enabling all God’s people

Engagement and Inclusion Officer, the Revd Vanessa Layfield, invites you to come along to the Enabling all God’s People service which takes place on 10 September at 2pm at St Michael's and All Angels', Bramhall.

This is the second service in the series of what is hoped to be a yearly event. The first was held in 2019, but Covid put a temporary halt on the annual service. Thankfully, now that Covid restrictions have been lifted the diocese is able to re-instate this service in its annual calendar.

When asked what was the inspiration for creating the service, Vanessa said: "Jesus included everyone and excluded no one, and we should do the same. The Bible tells us that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. It's important that we remind ourselves of this and also celebrate it."

She goes on to explain, however, that people do still feel excluded, both in their daily lives and surprisingly in some churches, where access can be difficult or where provision hasn't been made for them to fully participate in services, perhaps because they have impaired hearing or vision for example.

Vanessa is keen to point out that progress is being made in churches and that things are moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.

"Every year more and more churches are making improvements to their buildings and technology which helps people access and engage with their church, but it’s not all about ramps and hearing loops; it’s about changing attitudes," she says. "So often we assume people’s needs, desires, capabilities and even worth, without actually speaking to them or finding out how we can enable them to flourish.  We need to embrace all God’s people and celebrate our difference”.

One of the speakers at the Enabling all God’s People service is Darius Traves.

"He's an inspiration to anyone who thinks that a disability can hold you back and prevent you from doing something," Vanessa says. "Darius was born in 1995 and because of an accident during his delivery which deprived him of oxygen, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He came to faith at just four years old and through his faith, hard work, and determination he is now a fully ordained member of the clergy in the Church of England."

Vanessa is herself disabled, although outwardly, no one would see any visible signs.

Vanessa explains: "Not being 'obviously' disabled can sometimes be a barrier in my life and even organising this service, there can be the inevitable questions, maybe not said, but implied, of, 'What does she know about disability?' It's just one aspect of people's perception of disability that we are trying to change. The Enabling all God’s People service is one step closer to enabling all God’s people to flourish."

The service will be led by Bishop Julie Conalty, the Bishop of Birkenhead.

Book your free place here.



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