Cristina Gangemi – one of the DTh students that SWF supports – works to assist people with intellectual disabilities to express themselves in their own creative way. Here she talks about resources she has set up to help these creative learners connect and worship during this time of self isolation.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, social interaction and public worship has ceased, moving predominantly online. Many millions of people will be able to access a huge amount of material and faith activities. 20% of this number will have a disability. Statistically, this community of people are predicted to be amongst the most vulnerable in the path of this devastating virus. As a majority of very cognitive-orientated resources and worship become available online, we have noted an absolute absence of material for people with intellectual disabilities, who learn and communicate creatively. It thus seems that their faith, witness and need to practice is in danger of being squeezed out and overlooked and this creates a potential for people to miss out on their creative witness. The church is in danger of ignoring some of its members leaving them unaccompanied during Easter; or worse, as they possibly face death, bereavement, isolation and heightened loneliness.
Taking my inspiration from Susanna Wesley, who in the absence of her husband Samuel set up a ministry in her kitchen, I have brought a ministry with creative communicators to the net – “NoBody” must be left out! Using a section of my website we have created SPACE: An online Sacred Place for Accessible Communication and Empathy/Evangelisation (© Gangemi 2020). In a similar thread to Susanna, who could not leave people unaccompanied, our SPACE provides accessible formats and resources created with and for creative learners. The Easter story and practices can, thus, continue to be shared.
Using our webpage and facebook, SPACE invites disabled people and their families to share their stories, faith, and experiences during this time of social distancing.
As Susanna created a revolution in accessible ministry so we wish to rejoice in God’s constant accompaniment and presence and that, by remaining faithful and proclaiming the Gospel with all God’s people, we will be ‘conduct[ed] safely through all the changes and chances of this mortal life’ (Letter to John Wesley, 1725).
Do join in and visit our website, or share in our Facebook community.