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Lawn Community Church share why Ability Sunday matters to them

At Livability, we believe that everyone has strengths, talents and gifts to share. Churches and communities are richer when everyone is taking part – and that’s what’s exciting about Ability Sunday.

Celebrated nationally in September, Ability Sunday calls all churches to mark this as a special day and celebrate everyone’s gifts, working together for a more inclusive and accessible church.

We caught up with a Swindon church fellowship, who are big fans of Ability Sunday. Why do they get involved, and how do they celebrate? Leader John Roe was keen to tell us.

What happens at Ability Sunday?

Usually about 12 people from our Thursday Fellowship lead the service at Lawn Community Church in Swindon, where we have close connections. The fellowship group embraces a wide range of abilities, including those with learning disabilities, on the autism spectrum and people with dementia. One person is a very talented singer, another loves to read from the Bible, with support, and others lead the prayers. We use a storytelling model for the sermon, with drama and participation from the congregation.

Why is it important to the church community?

Ability Sunday turns the usual preconceptions about disability right around. Our Fellowship is now invited to help lead at two or three other churches during the year.

Why is it important to disabled people in the church?

Because everyone has God-given abilities. When everyone sees others’ gifts, they are often very moved and want to say thank you for leading us into worship together. There’s a special vibrancy for everyone when that happens.

Was any part of last year’s service particularly memorable for you?

Nathan, who’s an enthusiastic member of the Thursday Fellowship, hasn’t always been very confident in his abilities. Last year, Nathan agreed to take the leading role in the acting out of the ‘Good Samaritan’ story, and really engaged the congregation through his acting.

How useful do you find Livability’s Ability Sunday resources?

They are always our first port of call. The service outline gives real support, and we can adapt some ideas so they work with our group and their abilities.

Why should all churches put Ability Sunday in their calendar?

Because it gives such a great opportunity – almost permission, for some – to give serious thought, expression and space to those who might not usually get the opportunity to lead and take part. I’d encourage churches to be bold – trust that everyone has a gift to bring, and ask disabled people in the church how they would like to be involved. Just start a conversation about Ability Sunday!

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