Mental Health and Disabilities: Worship Resources

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Great strides have been made during the last two decades when it comes to including people who live with a disability or a mental illness! Technology has been a help. Developments in modern medicine have been a help. Education has helped. Attitudes have changed. This is something to celebrate!

The challenge, however, continues. Even though we have built ramps and installed elevators and have added loop systems in our places of worship some barriers remain. Some people who live with disabilities still feel very much on the fringe of our congregational life. At times they feel as if their presence is not valued nor their contributions desired. Some people with mental illness continue to feel unheard and misunderstood, at least in part because they are not always able to think rationally or because they simply do not have the energy to contribute in the same way as a person who has lots of energy.

Some congregations have worked very hard at being inclusive of all people. Some are looking for tools to help them to become more inclusive. Some may still be needing a nudge to begin to consider seriously what they may be missing by not fully including people who live with a disability or a mental illness.

This collection of worship materials has come to be because some congregations are asking for worship materials to help them be more inclusive. It has come to be because other people are writing this kind of material. It has come to be because I believe strongly that all people need to feel valued and included in our worship in ways that are helpful for all of us.

Since this is a collection of materials from various sources and written over the last several decades some of the pieces use language that is not my first choice of language. I think it is always important to talk about a person with a disability, putting the emphasis on the person rather than the disability as we tend to do when we speak about a disabled person. However, not all of the material in this collection reflects that and because it was written by someone else we have chosen not to change it but just to draw it to your attention. We trust you will make adjustments as you feel they are most appropriate in your congregation. - Irma Janzen

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