Included versus Inclusion: Creating an environment for people of all abilities at Christ Lutheran
Meredith Elliott - October 4, 2021
On the surface, the words Included and Inclusion seem to have very similar meanings. In fact, to most people, they have the same meaning, and they don’t give them a second thought. But to a segment of our church population, and society in general, they mean very different things with inclusion being a goal they strive to achieve their whole lives.
From the time we are young children, we all develop a desire to want to be included. Toddlers at the Children’s Center want to be included in games on the playground. Teenagers want to be included in after school hang outs with their friends. And adults want to be included in social gatherings with their friends and neighbors. But for those who are differently abled, those seemingly simple desires to be included, are not so easy. We must ask ourselves, as children of God, how can we serve to develop an environment of inclusion for all people? By first recognizing that we are all different, and to embrace those differences as we saw Jesus do so many times in the gospel.
By definition, Inclusion means the practice of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded, such as those with physical disabilities, or those of a minority group. We have been members at Christ Lutheran for about 10 years, and through the children’s ministry, we have experienced inclusion at our church through the Stepping Stones program (a faith development program done throughout a child’s youth along with their parents).
Our son Alex is 10 years old and has been in a wheelchair his whole life, yet he wants nothing more than to do everything that his siblings do (and better!). I’ll never forget during one of the Stepping Stones events, the children took a tour of the church campus as we relived events of the Bible, but parts of the tour were not wheelchair accessible. Laura Scott came to the rescue and helped facilitate the day on behalf of Alex and to make sure he could do every step of the program with the other children – that is the very definition of inclusion. That made Alex happy. That definitely made my Mama heart happy.
Laura and many others continue to create an environment for inclusion with all the good work they are doing at Thrive Day School. Thrive started 4 years ago as a school to support children with special needs and has now expanded to all 3 campuses supporting 60 children of diverse education and support needs. Alex joined the Thrive community this year and has excelled in the small classroom, faith-based education environment that Christ Lutheran is providing through this ministry. Thrive is just one way that Christ Lutheran is being intentional about inclusion and its support of our members and community.
Join us on October 10th for the CLC Inclusion Ministry Dessert & Discussion. Representatives from Thrive are speaking at this month’s meeting and will lead a discussion focusing on the importance of developing an inclusive ministry at the church for students who need more support. Our church is at its best when we celebrate our differences and learn from them. By preparing our members to tell the story of this ministry, we are fulfilling the teachings of the Bible to support those who need it the most. More information about the event can be found on the Christ Online page of the Christ Lutheran website.