Inclusion for the Long Haul

Inclusion takes a long time. It’s slow work, patient work, like tending a garden, or raising kids. You have to be there to patiently support things that go well, and to shape and change when things don’t go well. It takes care and attention. In some ways, that’s what makes it good work for the church. We aren’t trendy- or current- or cool. We are slow. It’s our super power. But the good news is that slow change is also lasting change.
Photo shows two women sitting next to each other facing the water. The sun shines between them. Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash.

Inclusion takes a long time. It’s slow work, patient work, like tending a garden, or raising kids. You have to be there to patiently support things that go well, and to shape and change when things don’t go well. It takes care and attention. In some ways, that’s what makes it good work for the church. We aren’t trendy- or current- or cool. We are slow. It’s our super power. But the good news is that slow change is also lasting change.

A friend asked me the other day why our church didn’t design a separate program for people with disabilities with branding and a name and a director- I said that the gift of diversity was too valuable for separate programs. I explained that in a community like ours that struggles with affluenza, that the powerful panacea of inclusion was too good a gift, too good a cure to squander. “Maybe it’s selfish, but inclusion of people with disabilities in our church is so good for everyone in the church that I can’t imagine separate programs.”

So even though it takes a long time, working toward full inclusion through out the whole leadership of the church means having conversations together, celebrating small successes, connecting people to their passions and nurturing a deep bench of people who are committed to welcoming people with disabilities at Central is allowing us to use our slow change super power to create something beautiful, something lasting and something that we are all a part of- together.

Published by Deborah Huggins, MDiv, PhD

I'm blessed to serve as associate pastor of youth and children at Central Presbyterian church in Summit New Jersey where I get to support families as we find connection to God and our community. My doctorate is in Special education, with a focus in faith inclusion.

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