Being an inclusive community of faith with respect to adolescents with developmental disability is not just about the “how”. It is not just a pragmatic question of leadership, or support mechanisms, or developmentally appropriate programming. It is a question about who we are as the people of God, and the reality that we are not all we can be if some are
At first glance, Amplifying our Witness begins as an academic exploration of the inclusion of young people with developmental disability in the community of faith, but it quickly becomes a dialogue, exploring the shortcoming of community without these young people and, by extension, other groups missing from our communities of faith.
Connor articulates the concept that within the witness of the church, one voice—or one kind of voice—is less adequate in enabling the church to fulfil its call in bearing witness to God. God is beyond any of our understanding or knowing or speaking and a variety of voices adds fullness to our image, and therefore to the image we proclaim.
Rather than seeking to provide a framework for engagement with young people with developmental disability, Connor instead promotes the conversation regarding the contribution these young people make to our communities. These contributions go on to enrich our understanding of God, each other and ourselves.
The challenge is clear! As we exercise Christian faith, which is by nature a communal faith, we do ourselves a disservice if we exclude. That exclusion may not be intentional or deliberate; it may be as simple as a pre-conditioned understanding of the way in which a young person with developmental disability contributes, participates and bears witness to God within our community of faith. As we allow space, becoming more intentional in our engagement with these young people, and the breadth of people generally within our community, we have the opportunity to more fully participate in the mission of God through the community
This book is well worth the read. At around 100 pages, it will not take long, however, the challenges it offers may well be worth taking much more time to reflect on.
Rev John Cox
Associate General Secretary, Queensland Synod and parent of Jasmin, an adolescent with developmental disability.