Dealing with disability is the ‘elephant in the church’, and Christians need to deal with it better, Gordon Temple has claimed.
The chief executive of charity Torch Trust said, ‘The truth is, many of us just don’t know what to say when we meet a disabled person, particularly when we know that the disability is permanent, chronic or life-limiting.
‘How do we approach someone with dementia? How can we engage in conversation with an autistic person? Or with someone in a wheelchair? Just what is an appropriate pastoral response towards someone who has just told you that they are going blind?’
He said it was understandable that people might be concerned about saying the wrong thing or appearing uncaring, but Christians need to address this ‘elephant in the church’.
Mr Temple, who was speaking ahead of the Enabling Church day conference, added: ‘This conference will help people to be equipped to engage with a largely overlooked but growing section of the community, who all too easily find themselves isolated, lonely and frankly marginalised’.
He pointed to statistics which claim that disability affects the lives of more than one in six people in the UK (www.churchesforall.org.uk). The charity Through the Roof has called on churches to remember 6 July as this year’s Disability Sunday.