During #DeafAwarenessWeek, we talked to Rev Dr Hannah Lewis, Pioneer minister with the Deaf community about the Open the Box conversation: “Open to all?” event. She explains why she’s organising the event and what she hopes it will achieve.
Why are you organising this Open the box conversation?
An “Open the Box” conversation is a two-way discussion exploring the question of whether the church really is “Open to all?”
As a diocese, we will be discussing how we ensure the inclusion of children who have a range of disabilities/special educational needs and their families in the life of the church. It’s really important we listen to people who have this experience so we can learn from them. It’s about engaging with families in the right way and not imposing what we think they need or like.
It’s also critical to hear from those who work or volunteer within the church environment so they can listen to what the families are saying. We aim to use the findings from the morning and then plan appropriate and relevant training for the workers.
If we can have a conversation, we can ensure we are continually looking at what we need to do as a diocese to help churches with all members of their congregation.
If we can understand how people feel the church currently facilitates them and also what they think we should do to improve it, then we can look at making sure the church really is open to all.
Who else will be leading the conversation?
As well as myself speaking about growing up as a deaf child in the church and what it really means to have a church that is open to all you’ll hear from Ruth Reed (Diocesan Disability Officer) who has dyslexia. While Local Missional Leader Rachel Bray shares her experience as a parent of autistic twins.
Who should come along to this open the box conversation?
The conversation is open to anyone from the Liverpool Diocese but especially children & youth workers, leaders, family workers, anyone who helps in church. We would also love to hear from people who have children with a range of disabilities or special educational needs and have found being in church difficult. Or from those who’ve had positive experiences, so we can learn from those too.
Why should people come along to this open the box conversation?
This event gives both the families of children who have a range of disabilities/special educational needs and their workers a voice to be heard. It’s their opportunity to let us know what we’re doing wrong and what we’re doing right. People can also share best practice, so it’s a chance to listen to each other too. We may find the same issues resonate from church to church or family to family, or even hear things we’ve not heard before. But we can’t explore the issues families face unless we open up the conversation.