Access for All
In recent years there has been a big drive to make public buildings more widely accessible. Since the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, service providers have needed to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to premises to overcome physical barriers to access, whilst balancing cost and other practicalities. This has resulted in wheelchair ramps, hearing loops, large print publications, and many other innovations. The principle is one of natural justice; it is right that everyone should have opportunities to access the good things of life.
This is a very biblical principle. The equality of all humans is asserted in the opening chapters of the Bible, which speak of God creating all humans ‘in his image’. All humans have the capacity to relate to God and all are called by God into relationship with him.
Throughout the Bible God ensures that special provision is made for vulnerable groups, for the diseased and disabled, the poor, and the ‘orphans and widows’. Jesus famously ministered amongst the sick and social outcasts, and the Church and individual Christians have continued that work of serving those in need, setting up schools, orphanages and hospitals, and pioneering work amongst the homeless, imprisoned, addicted, and dying.
Throughout history, the Church has sought to make the Gospel accessible to all, and has in the process translated the full Bible into 531 languages to date, and created myriad forms of worship for different cultures. Youth groups, lunch clubs, prison outreach, and countless other groups and activities have been set up to reach every segment of society with the life-transforming Gospel.
It is the vision of our churches in Harwell and Chilton to be accessible and relevant to everyone, serving the whole community in God’s name.
The new access path at All Saints’ is a concrete(!) expression of that – helping the infirm, elderly and very young to access the church building and all that goes on there. But there is much more to do.
St Matthew’s Church Council is actively thinking about how we can make our church building more accessible, comfortable and flexible – this includes thinking about the related issues of heating and seating. At All Saints’ we are thinking about how we might make our worship services accessible to a wider range of people – those who want something informal and contemporary, as well as those who love the formal, liturgical expressions of worship; an option being considered is moving to two differing services every Sunday morning.
And we would love to know what you think about all this. How do you think our churches could serve the villages of Harwell and Chilton better? How could our church buildings, worship services, and different groups and activities be made more relevant and accessible to 21st century men, women and children?
There are various ways you can let us know.
You can respond online to the Chilton Services consultation at http://hcchurches.org/chiltonservices, and also at the November All Saints’ Charity Market; response slips are also available in church.
St Matthew’s ‘Fit for the Future’ consultation is to be launched in late November, with a display and response slips in church. Further info and resources at http://hcchurches.org/fitforthefuture. Further publicity around the village to follow.
Do please also let us know what you think of our new ‘mobile-friendly’ website: http://hcchurches.org. It is another way in which we are trying to become more accessible!
Or you could simply speak to or email me – my contact details are found here.
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton