(Posted: 26 Jan 2012 09:01 PM PST Written by my friend Shannon Dingle)
Every story has two sides.But.I’ve heard enough first-hand stories from families with special needs about churches who have rejected them.I’m not talking about stories like “well, they just weren’t sure what to do with us.”No, I’m talking about conversations like the one I had with one of our moms after respite, when she, with tears in her eyes, told me, “We love the church. My dad is a pastor. But we don’t go to church anymore, because our last church asked us to leave.”
Please take a moment to process that before you move on. Take a moment to consider how you’d feel if you were asked to leave the church because of your eye color or skin tone or height
or IQ or some other attribute you can’t control. This child wasn't aggressive or dangerous; they were asked to leave because the children's ministry leaders said his autism was too distracting. If I were writing about a church that kicked out a family because their son was black, we’d be outraged. But sometimes when I share the stories I hear from the families we serve in Access, someone responds, “well, you can't really fault the church. They probably just didn’t know how to handle it.”
Maybe it’s because I’m dosed up on enough prednisone to work me into a bit more of a ranty state than usual (and to allow my asthmatic lungs to work), but let me tell you what I think of that sort of response: it’s baloney!
When church leaders kick out kids who aren’t up to the general education expectations they are used to, they don’t need our excuses. They do need grace. And repentance. And yes, training. And prayer. When I see tweets like this one (related to this story) three prayers come to mind: Jesus, help this family.
Jesus, let this church learn from this situation, even if the facts being reported aren’t completely accurate.
Jesus, please come soon. Amen.
Read this and weep!
Denum Ellarby Refused Communion Because He Has Down Syndrome, Parents sayEllarby Re
Denum Ellarby Refused Communion Because He Has Down Syndrome,
First Posted: 1/21/12 04:10 PM ET Updated: 1/21/12 05:34 PM ET
Ellarby says her child wasn't allowed to take his first Holy Communion because he has Down Syndrome. In a letter from the Diocese of Leeds, Ellarby was told that her seven-year-old Denum Ellarby lacks the "concentration" necessary to prepare for Communion, according to the BBC. The Diocese also said children can "only proceed to the sacrament of First Communion when they take part in the Church's life and understand the Church's faith"."It's just disgusting," Ellarby told the BBC. "I feel really let down by the Catholic faith."A spokesperson for the diocese told the Catholic Herald "Denum's family has not participated in the regular life of the Church or in the preparation preceding First Communion. We hope that this will change as Denum grows and we are working with him and his family to help him achieve this."The Christian Post reports that Clare and Denum's father Darren have started a petition in support of their son. "They need to have more compassion," Clare Ellarby told the Post. "What they are doing is so cruel." CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Denum Ellarby has autism.
Thanks, Shannon! This is EXACTLY why there is A Restoration Church in Pittsburgh! This very issue is a huge travesty, great shame and blight on the name of Jesus (Who spent most of His time on earth hanging with sp needs individuals and Who came to restore brokenness in every form!)!
But we must not hide behind the church as an institution clicking our tongues and shaking our heads in Phariseeical disdain unless we personally are clear that this kind of rejection even secretly and silently is NOT
God's way and is hugely destructive of a person's heart - a person Jesus values, loves and died for!