Making Room for Spiritual Abilities: Towards Inclusive Worship Practices
Pentecostals place great emphasis upon active participation in the worship service. But for many people with disability, attending a contemporary Australian pentecostal church may be best described as an experience of exclusion, backed up by a noted absence of people with disabilities within pentecostal denominations. This paper draws upon research conducted by The Centre for Disability Studies to assess community participants’ religious support-needs, using the I-CANv4 assessment tool. It shows that support for active spirituality is provided by a matrix of people and organizations. At present, many of the people with disability who require medium to high support receive this assistance from organisations funded by the Australian government. Yet, as this study shows, provider institutions and their staff often exclude the spiritual needs of people with disability. This exacerbates felt exclusion of people with disability, but also real exclusion – those who are prevented from attending rarely feature within church-based surveys. An assessment tool such as the I-CAN that uses a supports-need framework can concretely assess needs, including supporting spirituality. Assisted by recognition of support-needs, this article discusses intentional inclusion in church worship.
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