Monday, October 12, 2015

31 for 21 Day 12: Inclusion at church

After Chris and I had been together for a few years, it came up in discussion that we were ready to find a church together that we would both be interested in attending on a regular basis. We both were raised in a church; mine was one in which generations of family members attended, wed, had children baptized, held funerals for family members, many celebrations were held there, and one in which my siblings and I went through Sunday School right through our senior year of high school. Chris' involvement in his church was slightly different but he was also raised to spend Sundays in his local home church. After I went to college, I really only attended when I was home visiting and had gotten away from it a bit after I graduated and started my new life. 
When we were trying to figure out where we would start attending, we literally saw the "church on the hill" and decided to try it for the first time on Christmas Eve morning (it was a Sunday that year). It was beautiful inside and after the service and then were welcomed by members of the congregation, we felt that our search was over because we had found a place where we would be comfortable. 
Shortly after we began attending, Chris had proposed but our initial thoughts were that we would be married outdoors on the bay with a family member officiating. However, as time transpired and some events played out, we decided that we were looking for a more traditional place for our ceremony and it seemed only natural that we would be married in our new church. And so began a tradition for our family as we were married there and have now had our three children baptized in the same place as a growing family. This would not have happened had we not felt welcomed and comfortable in a place that feels much like it does when spending time with family members in their home.
When Colin was born, Chris and I went through a lot of "why us" and "this isn't fair". I'll never forget the day the pastor from our church came to visit us which was the same day the diagnosis of Down Syndrome was confirmed. I can vividly remember sitting in the living room of our old home having a conversation about Colin and how we were going to "get through this"; I can remember saying "but he has Down Syndrome" and him saying to us "so what?". That day was just the beginning of showing us it truly did not matter that Colin had Down Syndrome; he had an important place just like everyone else in the church. 
Colin is being raised in the church by our Pastor, Christian Education director, Sunday School teachers, and the church community who show him every week that he has an important place at the Presbyterian Church on the Hill. Thankfully, Colin will never know any different. We are thankful to people that accept him for who he is and understand that there are times when he needs a little extra help and assistance (like Sunday School) and are more than willing to accommodate those differences. You would think that the one place people with disabilities are accepted would be their church but sadly, I hear too many stories where people are not as lucky as Colin to be included in their church communities.

Rocking out at a church event Sunday night.

Colin is included at our church and he is a valued member; for that, we are truly lucky.

No comments: