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Boost for disabled people’s ministry

by
02 November 2006

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From the Revd Paul Smith
Sir, — Thank you for your report on Alyn Haskey’s ordination ( Features, 16 July). Mr Haskey’s ordination is a historic event in the life of the Church, and an occasion for great thanksgiving to God.

Since birth, I have had mild cerebral palsy, which affects my mobility. I was ordained in 2000, and my own experience in being selected and trained for ministry, as well as since ordination, has sometimes been difficult, painful and lonely, precisely because there are so few clergy in a position similar to mine.

So, for the few of us with physical disabilities already in ordained ministry, this can only be a sign of hope and inspiration in a mostly able-bodied Church, that finally Mr Haskey, someone with severe disabilities but many gifts, has had his vocation recognised.

It is my prayer and hope that he will have a fruitful and much valued and appreciated ministry.

I hope also that, having witnessed the example of the Bishop and diocese of Southwell in their decision to ordain Alyn Haskey, the whole Church may be able to listen to God in new ways.

Perhaps in this year when the Disability Discrimination Act comes into force, the Church is not simply relying on secular legislation to motivate itself towards better practice among people with disabilities after all. Instead, it seems that a creative engagement between disability and theology is now emerging, recognising that people with physical disabilities, however serious, do in fact have something most distinctive to offer to Christ’s ministry in the Church today.

At last I have some confidence that we are beginning to think that we should be acting on the belief that the integrity of Jesus, the Risen Great High Priest, was found in his visible wounds and physical impairments after the resurrection.

Alyn Haskey’s ordination is a most critical moment in the life of the Church. May it be a time for new beginnings, when those with physical disabilities can be fully welcomed and included in the community of faith. May it also encourage those who simply because of their disability have been actively discouraged from exploring a vocation to the ordained life.

PAUL SMITH
28 Peter’s Close,
Prestwood,
Bucks HP16 9ET

 

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