A guest blog post by Cris Gangemi, Director of The Kairos Forum:
As the director of the Kairos Forum, a small independent consultancy working in the field of church, access and disability, I have been truly amazed to be a witness to the unfolding of a very practical theology. Before I ran the Forum, I was a classroom assistant in a special school for many years and I can remember the same amazement occur as I worked with students who were incredibly creative in their learning. It was this unbelievable creativity that I have wanted to share through the work of the Forum.
The Living Fully Network Conference in Rome, 2016
Kairos gathers and dialogues within the stories of many people and organisations. We work alongside disabled people and their families, with practitioners and care providers, ministers and theologians and anybody who wants to gather and share in people’s stories. We work hard to ensure that the witness, creativity, gifts and experiences of people with disabilities can feed the Life and Mission of the Church. Our work includes developing training, practical activities and well-formed resources which bring theology, participation, worship and disability into living conversations that lead to action.
Communication tools using symbols
We support and inform the local, domestic, national and universal church as it seeks to facilitate change and transformation; exclusion to active belonging, from missed-understandings to shared awareness of gift.
As the coronavirus crisis continues, social interaction and public worship has been reduced and many millions of people have sought to be church online. 20% of this number have a disability and they have been statistically predicted to be the most vulnerable in the virus’s path. To ensure they are not left out, Kairos has developed SPACE (Sacred Place for Accessible Communication and Empathy), see link later in this blog, for creative and shared ministry. Meeting once a month on Zoom, people of many abilities meet as creative worshippers. Sharing about hopes and concerns, we have discovered how much can be achieved through technology and encounter.
We would now like to use that shared wisdom in our work and in service to the lives, faith and stories of people who communicate creatively and who are often labelled disabled. I would like to share an important message, as expressed by one our of our creative worshippers, John who lives with down syndrome, who told us
“Jesus comes into my life when I give communion, and I give my life back to him.”
That is the only way!
We would like to bring the voice of creative ministry into the centre of the church’s heart… If you would like to know more, or help us, please visit our website ‘SPACE’ (click below)
or contact me, Cristina Gangemi, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Header image: Cris Gangemi at the World Meeting Of Families, 2018
All images © Cris Gangemi/The Kairos Forum