A church that goes the extra mile
Millmead, Guildford Baptist Church is the latest recipient of Through the Roof’s Luke 5 Award for disability inclusion
The nomination came from a disabled member of the church known as ‘Laurie’ who describes it as a ‘fantastic church’ and explains how he has personally been blessed by their support.
Laurie uses a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy and communicates through an augmentative communication device – but wants people to know that he is 'more than happy being in a wheelchair and I feel that God has made me like this and it is not wrong.'
The Surrey church has not only included Laurie, but encouraged him to take an active role. He says, 'I am writing magazines, helping out with a special needs group, emailing prayers and talks of services and helping with social media.'
As well as supporting him with his Christian beliefs, he also says 'They are helping me with my social life such as meeting new people on Zoom to allow me to have better communication skills and friendships.'
Through the Roof is a Christian disability charity, and the church took the pro-active step of asking the charity for a Church Disability Awareness workshop (currently delivered over Zoom). Laurie took part himself, sharing some of his own experiences. It was indicative of the ‘heart’ of the church that so many people attended the workshop to find out more about how they could each play their part.
The charity's Luke 5 Award for Christian Disability Inclusion celebrates the difference made when barriers are broken down and disabled people are welcomed and fully included in Christian life.
Janet Eardley, the charity's Church Inclusion (Roofbreaker) Co-ordinator, said Millmead is 'definitely is a church that goes the extra mile to include disabled people.'
'Have a look at their website – you’ll find a great section explaining all the accessible features of the church including automatic doors, a lift to all floors, accessible toilets (one with a hoist and adjustable changing bench), a loop system and BSL signers at most services. The church has certainly made the most of a recent building project to improve physical access.
'There’s also a new coffee house ministry ‘Open Grounds Café’ providing training and work experience for those with a mental health condition and/or learning disability.
'We have been so encouraged by our contact with Guildford Baptist Church. It truly is life-transforming when a church catches the vision of how important it is to make sure that disability isn't a barrier to being fully included in Christian life.'
Ian Stackhouse, the church's Senior Pastor, said, ‘Like many Christian communities we are on a journey, seeking to honour and celebrate the uniqueness and the wonder of each and every person we encounter.
'We don’t always get it right, but to have this award from Through the Roof encourages us that we are on the right tracks.’
Guildford Baptist Church can be found on Through the Roof’s online map of churches which shows churches and ministries that are positive about disability inclusion and have a Roofbreaker/contact person to discuss any disability issues with.