Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The Christian Move to Include
Yesterday I rode with a group of cyclists to the Quinte Conservation offices along Highway 2 to meet Nick Foley as he arrived in Belleville. Nick began his Move for Inclusion ride from Victoria BC to St. John's Newfoundland in April and 5000 kilometres later he rolled into town where he will spend three busy days before continuing his journey. http://moveforinclusion.com/I
t sounds as though he has experienced some tough challenges, but he mentioned his biggest concern was that his sweet three-year-old daughter might not recognize him when he arrived home. She did!
Amongst the group of forty or more who greeted Nick were a number of people who are developmentally challenged. This is the "inclusion" aspect of Nick's ride and the reason I was there. We have a family at Bridge St. with three lovely young people with Down Syndrome. They are warm and affectionate and exuberant and we are so glad they are part of our Christian family. On Sunday Kai, the oldest, read scripture at our Open Air Service. We all needed to be patient as he found his way through the verses but, hey, we weren't in a hurry on a beautiful morning. I am proud of the Bridge St. congregation for its inclusion of a developmentally challenged adult named Tom, a sprightly guy who likes to assist me so much I wonder who the lead minister is at times!
Our society is changing. At the YMCA where I work out there are a couple of staffers with Downs. I notice that the show So You Think You Can Dance auditioned a free-spirited soul named Cody Carlson and did so with great respect. His proud mother says that Cody “doesn’t let a little Down Syndrome slow him down.” Judge Jason, Cody's inspiration, sent him to Vegas on his own dime.
Yet there are still ugly examples of contempt and exclusion. I heard recently of someone who works conscientiously and diligently for a local business who was called a "bleeping retard" (not bleeping) by the boss. When a family member heard about this the boss got a major earful. He apologized, but it should never have happened.
Ruth, my wife, and Isaac, our son, have both worked in group homes, and I became the informal chaplain in one. What a delight the gang proved to be, and both Ruth and Isaac loved the folk with whom they worked.
The community of Christ should always lead the way when it comes to inclusion. Always.
Thanks to Nick for reminding all of us how important this message of inclusion is.