Inclusive in Christ – Asbury University
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Inclusive in Christ

February 6, 2023

 Jean Kingery ‘79, California

Christmas 2017 meant changepoints for my late husband, Chip, and me. After working in south India for three decades, we returned to California to live. We were excited about continuing our work in disability ministry as we ‘thought’ churches in America would be more inclusive. We were stunned with our findings. 

In the United States, about 1 in 6 people have some type of disability. But, in church, that proportion isn’t usually represented. A Clemson University study in 2018 found that there are 2.5 million Christians with disabilities in the United States who want to go to church… but don’t. If these 2.5 million people have parents, siblings and spouses, that number gets much higher.

So why is there this gap between people with disabilities and the church? Nobody wants to exclude people with disabilities. However, we see people with disabilities that are underrepresented at our churches. 

The short answer is that the world is already filled with barriers. We don’t need to do anything more to put them there. We need to find those barriers and ask, “what can we do about them?”

There are many misconceptions about disability.  Phrases like ‘special needs’ can confuse the issue. Because the truth of the matter is that people with disabilities have the same needs as “everyone else” including friendship, community, and crucially—the gospel. Ephesians 4:4-6 says, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

If God has called every person, regardless of physical or intellectual ability into relationship with Him…shouldn’t we, as Asbury Alumni, make the same invitation?