28 May “A Place For Everyone” by Melissa Mitchell
A value at CCF (and of course of God’s) is that each person matters. You matter. We want each person to feel welcomed and wanted when they enter our doors. I have been part of CCF for a long time and truly believe that our leadership wants everyone to believe that they have a place in our church family.
However, there are barriers. One barrier is the lack of accessibility to all people in our church, namely our second floor where a great deal of teaching and community happens. I know that there has been discussion over the years about installing an elevator in the church for those that might have mobility challenges. In reviewing CCF’s upcoming budget proposal I was delighted to see that this need was highlighted for the upcoming year.
As many of you know, I am the parent of a child who has Autism. I have become more connected to the special needs community as a result of this. My daughter has a deep interest in learning more about people with all sorts of disabilities and has made me much more aware of people and the daily challenges they face. Physical accommodations such as curb cuts, accessible parking spaces, ramps, and elevators can all make it possible if an individual or a family decides to come to our church.
There are other kinds of barriers as well. Some that are invisible but still very real. I belong to a Facebook group for parents with special needs and there is often discussion about whether or not they feel welcome in a particular place. Disabled people (and not all disabilities are physical) sometimes struggle with feeling included and wanted. God’s church should be a place where each person can experience God’s love and the community of believers.
It has been so encouraging to see CCF take steps over the past several years to be including of everyone. Things like the family restroom on the first floor and providing extra helpers in Sunday School rooms for children who might need more support. We have also partnered with Magnolia Pediatrics, a local practice that serves children and families with complex medical needs. We have opened our doors to them so they can have a place for special events.
Caring for people is at the very core of who Jesus is. The New Testament is full of stories of Jesus caring for those who are often on the fringes of society. Talking, touching, feeding and healing. Jesus and New Testament writers talk about the power of love.
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’‘
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. “
When I think about the steps CCF is talking about taking in helping our church to be a more welcoming place for everyone, I think these verses help describe what I am feeling. Let us not just say we want to welcome everyone, let us truly do that.
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:17-18