During #DeafAwarenessWeek, we talked to Rev Dr Hannah Lewis, Pioneer minister with the Deaf community about the Open the Box conversation: “Open to all?” event. She explains why she’s organising the event and what she hopes it will achieve.
Why are you organising this Open the box conversation?
An “Open the Box” conversation is a two way discussion and we want to explore the question of whether the church really is “Open to all?”
We will be discussing how we ensure the inclusion of children with disabilities and their families in the life of the church. It’s really important we listen to people who have this experience so we can learn from them. It’s about engaging with families in the right way and not imposing what we think they need or like.
It’s also critical to hear from those who work or volunteer within the church environment so they can listen to what the families are saying. We aim to use the findings from the morning and then plan appropriate and relevant training for the workers.
If we can have a conversation, we can ensure we are continually looking at what we need to do as a diocese to help churches with all members of their congregation.
If we can understand how people feel the church currently facilitates them and also what they think we should do to improve it , then we can look at making sure the church really is open to all.
Who else will be speaking?
As well as myself speaking about growing up as a deaf child in the church and what it really means to have a church that is open to all you’ll hear from Ruth Reed (Diocesan Disability Officer) who has experience dealing with dyslexia, while Local Missional Leader Rachel Bray has extensive background knowledge of the impact of autism.
Who should come along to this open the box conversation?
The conversation is open to anyone but especially children & youth workers, leaders, family workers, anyone who helps in church. We would also love to hear from people who have children with disabilities and have found being in church difficult.
Why should people come along to this open the box conversation?
This event gives both the families of children with disabilities and their workers a voice to be heard. It’s their opportunity to let us know what we’re doing wrong and what we’re doing right. People can also share best practice, so it’s a chance to listen to each other too. We may find the same issues resonate from church to church or family to family, or even hear things we’ve not heard before.